If you are—or have ever been—a pregnant woman on public transportation, you know how near-impossible it is to find a seat during rush hour. You’re carrying extra weight and dealing with aches and pains, and yet you can’t always count on commuters to notice you (or let’s be honest, care). And regardless of how badly you want to sit down, not every woman feels comfortable asking someone to give up a seat. Luckily, the Chicago Transportation Authority just launched a program to make things easier.
Starting today, they’re distributing large buttons that feature an image of a pregnant woman and read “Baby on board! Could we please sit down?” Expectant moms can pick up the buttons online or in person at CTA headquarters and various hospitals—and at no cost, of course.
The idea came from a company called The Mom Project, which works to support mothers in the workplace. They’re giving out similar buttons to pregnant passengers and have been asking the CTA to do so for several years. The pins are meant to improve communication among riders and help women whose pregnancies aren’t easily visible or who don’t want to ask other people to stand. The CTA spread the word in a tweet.
Twitter being Twitter, the responses are mixed. “Great idea!!! Some people don’t think of others,” one person commented. Another tweeted, “This is a good idea… I’m not always sure that someone is pregnant and I don’t want to assume and risk offense.” But many others were skeptical that the buttons will truly make a difference. As one person said, “Hope it helps, but if riders aren’t noticing a pregnant belly, they aren’t going to notice a pin.”
But the CTA remains optimistic. “We believe the majority of our readers are courteous, thoughtful people and we think this button program will help bring that out,” said CTA spokesperson Brian Steele.
They’re not alone in thinking such a program could work. Similar badges are already common on public transportation in London; Kate Middleton sported one in 2013 when she was pregnant with Prince George and was helping celebrate the anniversary of the Tube. And in Busan, South Korean, the Pink Light Campaign was rolled out, offering a wireless beacon with a pink light that pregnant women could activate, indicating a non-pregnant or able-bodied person should give up their seat.