(Photo: flickr.com/Adam Bailey)
Hot pink, the new color of chivalry
Pregnancy is a beautiful yet difficult ordeal that leaves all to-be mothers at the mercy of sleepless nights, swollen feet and uncontrollable appetite. Many pregnant metropolitan mothers confess that using public transportation is often the worst of all daily-challenges for them as people are increasingly insensitive to the physically taxing state of slugging around with a seven pound parasitic(I mean that in the nicest way possible) mini-me on their bulging abdomen.
Public trains all have pre-installed priority seats that are technically ‘reserved’ for those who require physical assistance such as the pregnant and the elderly. But we all know that in the real world, ‘priority’ means first come first serve. Once a person has a seat he or she will tend to not relinquish it, resorting to Oscar-worthy performances by pleading ignorance or sudden drowsiness whenever a struggling pregnant mother, elderly or handicapped happens to enter the vicinity. The city’s all about survival of the fittest after all.
The death of decency in urban transportation/Image: theStar.com
To address the unfortunate yet pandemic reality of passengers pretending to doze off when a pregnant woman passes by, South Korea has recently tested the Pink Light campaign with 500 pregnant women in the Busan metropolitan rail service over the course of five days. A wirelessly activated pink light was installed above the city train’s priority seats and once women who carry Bluetooth emitting ‘pregnant sensors’ entered the train, the lights were automatically activated, accompanied by a not-too-intrusive alarm. Results have shown that in nearly all cases, people gave up their seats for the pregnant woman carrying the Pink Light sensor.
Wireless-activated Pink Light sensors installed in Busan's trains/Image: BBC
The alert is intended to be a friendly ‘reminder’ to all the non-preggers passengers to get off their ass and give up their seats. Based on simple and inexpensive psychology, this campaign is a considerate gesture by the local government to guarantee its pregnant citizens a seat on public transportation without having to go through the embarrassment of directly asking a stranger for his or her seat.
The Pink Light campaign is a collaboration between the Busan city council and local businesses to eventually install in all city transits a Bluetooth receptive alarm while distributing beacon-badges to the pregnant women of the city. According the Pink Light campaign website, the sensors have six months of battery life, are not waterproof, and must be carried outside a bag for maximum signal strength. This smart solution, which is under progress to be installed throughout the entire nation, is a healthy case of how a simple technology is used to counteract a ubiquitous social problem.
Though lacking in style, these beacons make up in effectiveness/Image: BBC
Now there have been some voices of concern that the extra attention, a step above the common ‘Baby on Board’ badge gimmick, will embarrass mothers from carrying these sensors at all times. I do understand that pink lights blazing every time you step into the metro might not be the most inconspicuous manner of commuting. But mothers, you should revel in the attention! Turn the train into your own personal runway and take the seat that is rightfully yours from the otherwise insensitive bastards that denied you your deserved (soon-to-come)birth right! Once the test-runs are done, I contest that the Pink-light campaign be adapted to all metropolitan cities world-wide to safeguard the sensitive feet of our overburdened mothers. Bring back chivalry the millennial way.