Childless people, let me let you in on a little secret: Car seats are a huge pain in the ass. They’re no big deal if you own a car, I guess, except for the fact that your kid probably squawks at the prospect of being immobilized in that iron maiden too long.
For car-free parents, on the other hand, picking up a Zipcar for a quick trip involves carrying around a bulky, 18-pound car seat while also carrying your child or at least making sure he or she isn’t running into traffic. Spontaneous taxi-hailing is out of the question. Getting a ride home from a friend is tricky.
Someday, the technology will undoubtedly improve. Child restraints will magically rise up out of the backseat, or inflatable car seats will come into vogue (and meet safety standards). Until then, there is, finally, uberFAMILY.
The “ride-sharing” giant today announced the DC launch of a new service, uberFAMILY, which allows users of either the luxury black sedans or the more low-cost UberX alternative to click a “family” button to request a car outfitted with a child seat. They even get their drivers trained by the Car Seat Lady on how to install them. The service has been available in New York since May.
It’s not such a complicated concept, but it’s an overdue one, and one that surprisingly few conventional taxi companies have bothered to implement.
Uber’s take on kid-friendly travel isn’t perfect. If your kid is under a year old, 22 pounds, or 31 inches, the forward-facing car seat Uber provides will be too big. They don’t have boosters for bigger kids. And the $10 surcharge will keep budget-minded families from using this as anything but an emergency measure. But it’s a nice gesture toward inclusiveness and could be a big help for families trying desperately to get home by naptime.