Stroller Upgrade: Harness the Downhill Momentum
For all the complaining I do about high end mega-strollers, I have to admit, I love my big stroller. It is super comfortable for the Tubaloo (we nicknamed it the nap-mobile.) Plus, it is so tough and modular, I feel like it could solve almost any problem. It can be a single or a double, a bassinet, a seat, a high chair ....we've even used it as a dolly to move boxes into the garage. The engineer in me is just fascinated by the different design possibilities that these pose. Plus, a modern looking stroller ads a certain amount of style and sophistication to an otherwise chaotic frumpy existence.
But in terms of convenience, it's too heavy. Most luxury strollers weight between 20 and 30 lbs! That's before you put anything in it. Ad a baby and a diaper bag and you're beyond 50lb easy. Our stroller is 23lb, which comparatively isn't all that bad. But it's enough to make me not want to bring it along on short outings. Getting it in and out of the trunk is a pain (I'm going to propose a solution for that next week.)
But getting it in and out of the trunk isn't the only thing this heavy stroller makes difficult. Hills. Up hill, you're getting a good workout. Down hill, you're struggling to prevent it from rolling away from you. I find this particularly annoying since I tend to get knee pain. (Wow, I sound like an old lady sometimes, don't I? Knee pain, back pain...) Anyway, the last thing I need when going down a steep hill is to be struggling to hold the stroller back. I can't tell you how many times I've yearned for a hand brake. The same kind they have on bikes. It would be so simple! I know some jogging strollers have these. But I think they should be standard on all stollers over a certain weight (maybe 15lbs?) You just need something to slow the momentum down. A foot brakes is useless, because you're walking! A foot brake is for stopping. A hand brake can be used for slowing.
And while we're going with the bicycle analogy, how about handlebars that actually steer? Steering these big guys can be difficult at times depending on the situation - and mine is actually pretty smooth. But still, strollers steer like shopping carts. Your pushing from the back to turn the front. If you had bike-like handlebars you could turn the front wheels with the handlebars and steering would be much more dextrous. I put them in this diagram as an optional feature, but I guess you could just replace the old handlebars if you wanted too...
Now, the next logical question in my mind is this: if the stroller is trying to wiz downhill on it's own, why does it need you to push it? You know those step-up boards for older kids, so they can ride along behind the stroller. Why not have a bigger one for mom (or dad.) When you have a long downhill, just fold down the adult-sized step-up board, and hop on! Don't go too fast though! You can use your steering handlebars and handbrake to make sure you control the momentum. Slowing down too much? I guess you could just push off the ground like a skateboard and keep on going!
Now, since this is for the parent, the arms that attach is to the back of the stroller would be a little bit longer so that it rides a little farther away from the stroller than a kid's step up board. That way, you're back far enough to hold the handlebars, there's enough room to still have a kid's kick up board in the middle, and when you fold it up, there's enough room underneath to still reach into the basket.
See, here's a view from the back with it folded up. You can still reach the basket.
Now, let's put it all together: The hand brake, the steering handlebars, the adult step-up board, and the kid step up board. Heck, let's even add a fun little toy steering wheel for the kid:
Weeeeee! There's a few hills I can think of at the LA Zoo where this would be a blast. Oh, but go slowly please. Remember, you have precious cargo!
Okay, I realize that I just added a lot of weight to this thing. But I figure, if you can't reduce the weight, why not work with it! Stay tuned next week for more stroller solutions. We're going to focus on uphill improvements and how to get this big buggy into the trunk of your car without throwing your back out.
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Dr. Dad = My darling husband. The Great Tubaloo, or the GT = what we like to call our son (rhymes with "tube of glue".) Note, it's a title, not a name. as in "The Great and Almighty Tubaloo who has traveled from from over the mountain to impart his wisdom!"
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