by Jerry Guarino
In the Park Slope section
of Brooklyn, one June morning, Annika was pushing
her infant to the coffee shop while texting on
her smart phone. Sasha was arriving from the
opposite direction, also texting on her phone.
The infants saw it coming but were unable to warn
their mothers. As the two approached, the infants
braced themselves for impact, all the while
miming a message that was ignored. Traveling at
close to 2 mph, the strollers collided head-on
directly in front of the café. Sashas
infant threw her hands up in the air; Annikas
baby mouthed something that looked like WTF
. Meanwhile, an alarm went off in police precinct
#78, but Im getting ahead of myself.
Back in 2012, sociology graduate student Carl
Lagerfeld was studying population demographics
for the Park Slope neighborhood, as part of his
thesis. He first noticed that a majority of women
in Park Slope had developed a convex mound around
their belly button. Following this population, he
discovered that a little over eight months later,
these same women were pushing strollers around,
with wee versions of themselves inside. He
reported these preliminary findings to his
advisor who told Carl to conduct a long-term
study of the women in Park Slope.
Carl hired middle school students to take digital
photographs of every woman they saw, noting the
time of day, date and location for each.
Aggregating these photos into a database, Carl
began to recognize patterns. In the first year, a
majority of women dressed in work attire, took
the subway and left the area for about 8 hours,
returning after 5pm. In the second year, the same
women displayed the previously mentioned mound
around their belly button; Carl named this a bump
. In the third year, the same population was
pushing strollers in the neighborhood and
spending most of their time in cafes, parks and
yoga studios. Thats when the trouble first
What began as a small group of women sharing
conversation over a latte grew to dozens, then
hundreds, then thousands of strollers throughout
the neighborhood. Coffee shops that once served
100 people could only hold thirty-five because
strollers took up the space. This did not please
the owners of coffee shops, cafés and other
establishments. And because the women who
frequented these establishments tended to stay
for hours and talk with one another, the revenue
for the shops diminished. That doesnt even
take into the account the ten percent of women
who brought a dog along with them on their daily
errands; dogs tended to bark whenever another
person came close to the baby; that further
disturbed the café patrons and owners.
Carl noticed that some of the women pushing
strollers were developing the bump and that these
women would exchange their strollers for double
strollers eight months later with two wee
versions of themselves inside. Most of the time,
these double strollers were positioned one seat
behind the other, but some strollers had a double-wide
position for the infants and thats when the
real trouble began.
Suddenly, Park Slope wasnt known for great
public schools, restaurants, historical buildings
and museums anymore, but congestion comparable to
that of the rush hour in Manhattan. The
congestion got so bad that the borough president
demanded some local ordinances to manage the
stroller flow and reduce the possibility of
accidents. Who is that professor who has
been studying this? inquired the borough
Carl Lagerfeld, your honor, from Brooklyn
Well, get him in here right away.
Carl had just completed a website, babybump.com,
which mapped out the locations of moms and
strollers and demonstrated it to the borough
Thats excellent, Carl. May I call you
Carl? Yes sir.
Good. Now this is a beginning. But what we
really need is real-time information, sort of how
the news stations track traffic during rush hour.
Well, then we would need more technology
sir. What do you mean?
Well, if we could integrate the website
with the Homeland Security cameras on every
corner, then we could see video of congestion and
Its done. Joe, contact Homeland
Security and tell them were tying in the
cameras to Carls babybump.com
Right away, Mr. president. The aide
rushed out of the room to make it happen.
Now Carl, we still have a problem. Seeing
the congestion and accidents is good, but how do
we prevent them from happening? An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure, you know.
Yes sir. Well, I thought if we could
install some stroller lanes on the sidewalk, that
Yes, excellent. That should reduce
accidents quite a bit.
Well, maybe said Carl. But
there are these double-wide strollers mothers
with two infants have been using. The ones with
two in line are no problem but the double wide
strollers wouldnt fit in the new stroller
Hmm. I see. What if we made the women
pushing double-wide strollers pay a fee, like
trucks do at toll booths?
Thats a good idea sir. But how would
we enforce this?
The borough president thought a moment. What
if we required all strollers to get a GPS chip
I see where youre going. The DMV, or
lets call it the DSS, could license all the
strollers, and issue the GPS devices and tags,
like cars have. Who would enforce violations sir?
Well, we have the parking department. Theyre
out on the street anyway. They can issue
citations like they do for illegal parking.
OK, well that would work sir. We have one
more problem though. Yes Carl, what
Some of the moms are jogging while they
push the strollers. One of our middle school
students clocked a mom stroller going ten mph the
other day. We are bound to have a major accident
some day and someone is going to get seriously
hurt. Carl and the president were clearly
Hmm. Ive got it. In addition to the
regular traffic lights and signs, well
install mini stop signs and lights for strollers,
like we do for pedestrians. And put up mini speed
limit signs for the moms, like 3 mph near
intersections and 5 mph on long sidewalks.
Carl was taking detailed notes. That should
I can see it now Carl. A whole system to
monitor, regulate and improve the flow of
stroller traffic throughout the borough. They dont
have this in Manhattan, Ill tell you that.
The mayor will give me a commendation, dont
Quite so, Mr. president. But I think we can
do even better. Since we will be installing the
GPS chips on the strollers, why couldnt we
require the moms to purchase a bumper guard on
the front of the stroller? We could link it to
the electronics in the GPS. If a mom bumped into
another stroller or pedestrian, a ping would go
off and notify the appropriate people.
The borough president nodded approval. Yes,
thats even better. Couldnt we also
issue citations for bumping, like reckless
driving, or strolling?
Of course sir.
But where to send the signal of reckless
strolling? I know. We could send the signal to
the local precinct. Put up a big board of the
borough, like the subway people have to monitor
trains. And if we use the Homeland Security
cameras to record video of the infraction, we
would have proof. No hassling with people
fighting it in court.
There may be some upfront costs, your honor.
Thats alright. With the money we
raise from licensing strollers, fees for double-wide
strollers and citations for reckless strolling,
we should be able to cover it. If we OEM the GPS
devices and stroller electronics, we could sell
those too. And then theres the extra income
well get from visitors, unfamiliar with the
ordinances, who will stumble into some citations
Sounds like a plan, your honor. May I
consult on this with your team here?
Of course, Carl. Well set you up with
a desk here. Joe, lets use the room we have
for foreign visitors as a war room. Set Carl up
there with a desk. Hell be on point for
this. And I want this done, ASAP. Spare no
expense. He looked at Carl. Have we
covered everything son?
Well, what about parking strollers while
moms are in the cafés, shops and yoga studios?
And there is the problem with dogs barking in
Parking, yes. Joe, have the parking
department start painting little lanes for
strollers, and spaces for the dogs too. Put in
mini parking meters, but charge the same as for
cars. That should add some revenue and make the
moms carry the babies once in a while. Do them
good and create more room inside the coffee shops
for people. Wait, what if the mom didnt put
in enough money for parking the stroller?
Just like with cars, sir. We tow it away.
Better yet, we sell the stroller?
A loud siren interrupted their plans.
Sounds like an ambulance, your honor.
Joe, whats happening out there?
Theres been an accident, your honor.
A jogging stroller mom was almost hit by a truck,
but it missed her and ran into a fire hydrant. It
looks like the driver will be OK too.
Thank goodness for that said the
president. Carl, it looks like you better
get started right away.
Yes, your honor.