Pregnant on the Subway: A Study of Seat Etiquette

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New Yorkers already know which subway lines are the dirtiest and which ones have the worst delays -- now an informal survey by a Brooklyn woman can tell you where pregnant women are most likely to get a seat. (Published Tuesday, Mar 8, 2011)

    New Yorkers already know which subway lines are the dirtiest and which ones have the worst delays -- now an informal survey by a Brooklyn woman can tell you where pregnant women are most likely to get a seat.

    A pregnant Elizabeth Carey Smith performed a four-month-long study of subway etiquette under a grueling set of circumstances: riding three or four trains to get from Greenpoint to the West Side, an hour each way, during last summer's heat wave.
     
    As Smith made the long trek, she started to take note and keep track of the number of times passengers on packed trains would offer her a seat.

    Smith found that passengers overall offered up seats to her 8 out of 10 times during her rush-hour study.

    The results didn't surprise her, but might shock anyone who assumes New Yorkers are rude.

    "New Yorkers are kind, they will help you," said Smith, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Ed, and four-month-old daughter, Francesca.

    She added, "New Yorkers are actually really accommodating. They're just in a hurry. If you need help, they'll help."

    The least generous line? G as in greedy. Aboard the the green line famous for its infrequency, no one offered Smith a seat about 57 percent of the time.

    Asked why passengers would ignore his wife's obvious need for a seat, Smith's husband offered this theory: "I guess it's the start or the end of the long day and they don't really feel it's justified," he said.

    Meanwhile the No. 6 train was among the most polite.

    Jessica Driscoll, a regular rider on that line, said in this BlackBerry universe it's hard to get anyone to even notice you're expecting.

    "I guess maybe they don't know that I'm pregnant?" she said. "A lot of people just aren't paying attention."