Opinion: NYC takes on ‘man spread’ and other rude subway habits; L.A. should too

New York City’s transit agency will launch a public education campaign in January to remind (or scold) riders not to take up so much space on crowded subways, BuzzFeed News reports. The effort will target people who fail to remove their backpacks and smoosh other standing passengers, as well as “man spreaders” or passengers (generally men) who sit with their legs wide open and take up more than the allotted seat space.

The campaign will focus on courtesy and teaching subway etiquette. It’s a good idea and one the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority should also consider. Man spreading may not be a big issue on L.A.’s rail and bus lines. (NYC’s subway seats are typically long benches, where a passenger sitting with legs splayed can take up three seats. L.A.’s trains have bus-like arrangement with pairs of spacious seats.) But there are other etiquette lessons to be learned on L.A.’s transit lines, such as:

Don’t hog the handicapped seats. I’ve seen a fit-looking young person or adult, nose in a video game or napping, remain in the handicapped seat by the door as a passenger with a cane maneuvers through a crowded train in search of another spot. Unacceptable. The seats by the door are for seniors, the handicapped or anybody else who might need to take a load off. If you choose to sit in one of those seats, you should be prepared to vacate it at any moment for a passenger in need.

Don’t crowd the door. Let the passengers off the train or bus before you try to enter. Exiting riders shouldn’t have to push their way off.

Wear headphones. Especially if you like music with a lot of expletives .

Don’t sit on the stairway. Yes, you’re tired after a long day and there are not enough benches at the stations. But you and your backpack parked on the stairs create a traffic jam for passengers going up and down the stairs.


These are quibbles, of course. I’ve found most Metro passengers to be a polite and thoughtful bunch, but it’s clear some folks either don’t know the unofficial rules of ridership or choose to ignore them. Either way, a public education campaign and maybe a little shaming couldn’t hurt and may make everyone’s ride a little more comfortable.

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