Madrid tackles ‘el manspreading’ with new public transport signs

Authorities want to encourage men to respect boundaries on bus seats and keep legs closed

Madrid’s transport authorities are taking a stand against seated male selfishness with a campaign to tackle the social scourge that is manspreading.

Fed up with men whose thighs fail to respect the boundaries of bus seats, the Spanish capital’s Municipal Transport Company (EMT) is to put up signs discouraging the practice.

The EMT - which explains that “el manspreading” is “an English term that describes the posture of men who open their legs too wide and take up neighbouring seats” - said the new signs are intended to remind people of the need to respect the space of all bus passengers.

Would-be manspreaders will hopefully be deterred by small pictures of a thoughtless, faceless red man invading the seat to his right .


“This new information sign is similar to those that already exist in other transport systems around the world to stop people adopting a posture that makes others uncomfortable,” the company said in a statement.

The EMT said it had come up with the initiative in partnership with Madrid city council’s equality department and the Microrrelatos Feministas collective, a women’s group that has launched an online petition for such signs to be installed.

Their petition, which has attracted more than 11,500 signatures, says: “All public transport has stickers explaining that room needs to be made for pregnant women, people with buggies, older people and those with disabilities, but there’s something that affects all of us practically every time we use public transport: manspreading.”

Similar initiatives have been launched around the world. Three years ago, the New York subway system began its own crackdown on the problem with a campaign entitled “Dude, stop the spread please. It’s a space issue”.

Seattle’s Sound Transit agency, meanwhile has used a sprawlingly self-centred purple octopus to plead for public transport courtesy.

Guardian News and Media