Yes, it’s true. While New York State law requires all taxi and for hire vehicle drivers to wear a seatbelt while driving, there is no law that requires you to take a car seat when taking your baby in a taxi. In short, the TLC is exempt from NY State car seat law. The TLC merely encourages car seat use for passengers traveling with children.
Just because you can get away with not having a car seat obviously doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Just think about it. A stranger is driving you (often fast) in a strange car. And you have your baby, there with you, on your lap. Clearly not safe. Certainly not worth the risk.
You are probably quite comfortable taking your infant car seat with your stroller frame for a nice travel system that works like a charm. But when your baby grows out of that bucket set, and is ready for a convertible seat, your easy breezy jaunts around town are going to get a bit more complicated.
When traveling in a taxi, Uber or Lyft (or any vehicle), if your baby has outgrown the infant car seat, you should be taking your convertible car seat. But we get your reticence. Hailing a taxi and then installing and deinstalling a heavy, hard to transport convertible car seat is not very practical and would take some muscle and resolve, or a crafty solution.
We’ve been asking manufacturers to make us a crafty solution (e.g. a convertible car seat-Doona would be perfect) for us city folks, but until they do, for those of you who are traveling in an taxi, Uber or Lyft, if you want to have safest convertible car seat for the city, here’s the play:
1/Get the easiest-to-install convertible car seat you can. We like the Foonf, as even though it’s a tank, at the weight all of these things are, it doesn’t matter. (You won’t carry any of them - for portability, read on). Depending on the child’s size, if you’re installing it forward facing, you can use rigid LATCH, so it can be click and go. If you want something lighter, the Fllo is a good choice as we’ll discuss later.
2/Use “L” bracket with wheels (like a luggage cart) to bring it from here to there. The child can even remain seated in the car seat. You can push it ahead of you down the street, and maybe drag it behind while crossing streets. If you can’t find one of those (check Amazon), you can always use a wheeled travel bag. A child obviously can’t sit on it then, but if you have a child who likes to walk or if you’re babywearing, you’ll be OK.
With this combo – a convertible with an L bracket or a wheeled bag – you will have the safest ride. Though admittedly, it won’t be the easiest.
More Do-Able Option
If you’re not going to travel with a convertible car seat for your little one, we think the next best option is the Pico by WAYB. It doesn’t have all the safety features that a convertible car seat has and it’s only forward facing. But it’s easy to bring along and offers a five point harness so the child will be restrained in the taxi or Uber which is essential.
The Pico weighs in at only 8 pounds and will accommodate children from 22-50 pounds, 30-45 inches. You can either install the Pico with LATCH and top tether or the seat belt with top tether.
For carrying it around, you can simply wear it as a backpack with the straps or purchase the deluxe travel bag for easy portability.
It should be noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends front facing car seats at age 2 years, so it’s best suited for 2+. However, WayB says the seat is appropriate for ages 1+, and if you’re not inclined to carry around your convertible car seat which is the “best and safest option”, we certainly think it’s a “next best option” and is achievable for any city parent!
Uber Rides With Children
If you're going to book an Uber with a child, look for Uber Car Seat, a service that provides Uber X vehicles with a car seat. It's only available right now in NYC and choosing this option will cost an additional $10 per ride. This all sounds doable, but there's a catch.
Children must be 2 years old, 22lbs and 31 inches to take advantage of this service. This basically leaves out children who have outgrown their infant seat (generally around 1 year old) to 2 years old (when they're the smallest and most vulnerable). Note that a child is too big for this option at 48lbs or 52 inches.
However, if your child is the right age and size for this service, it's a great option. You also might want to check out the new Uber Reserve if you have a vacation coming up. You can schedule your ride up to 90 days ahead of travel and get the whole car seat in place.
Of course with Uber, you can always bring your own car seat as suggested above. Note that if you do bring a car seat in your taxi, Uber or Lyft, the driver will not help in installation for liability purposes, so you're best advised studying the seat and ensuring that you know how to easily install it.
Also, beware, if your Uber driver believes that you don't have a safe set up, it is their right to refuse you.
Lyft Rides With Children
At the time of writing, similar to Uber, Lyft has a Car Seat Mode option for New York City. This also applies just to children 2 and up and is a $10 surcharge. If your child doesn't fit the criteria of the car seat Lyft drivers also have the right to refuse you, so it's best to know their rules and follow them so that it's smooth riding around the city.
Other “Next Best” Options
If you find yourself without a convertible car seat, Uber and Lyft isn't an option, and you need to take a Taxi, there are a couple extra tips to keep as safe as you can.
- If you have access to a booster seat, use this for your child. Even though something with a five point harness is better, a booster seat will help make the seat belt fit better, making the ride safer.
- If you don’t have a car seat or booster seat, just use the vehicle’s seat belt restraint system. Everyone should be clicked in with their own seat belt, restrained by BOTH the lap belt and shoulder harness. The shoulder harness should never be tucked under an arm or behind.
- Never use one seat belt for multiple people side by side or one one’s lap.
- It is not safe to carry the baby either in your lap or in a baby carrier in a car. Your arms will open upon impact or the straps of the carrier will break, putting baby in great harm.
Cars For City Kids
In the end, we think it's essential to have a convertible car seat or at least something lightweight like the Pico for navigating the city. You never know when you have to get somewhere in a jiff with your tot in tow.
For all your car seat needs, head on into the Babesta shop and we'll be happy to hear about your plans and situation and help you filter through your options to find the safest solution that you will be able to pull off on the daily!
But at the end of the day, sometimes you might want to just save the stress and hop on the 1/2/3 or 4/5/6. They'll get you nearly anywhere in a jiff and learning your numbers from the grid is pretty cool.