'Manspreading' banned on Madrid public transport

A campaign to end 'manspreading' has unfurled in Madrid, Spain, in a bid to shame men into keeping their legs shut on public transport.

Manspreading refers to the practice of some men sitting with their legs spread apart on public transport. 

The campaign is being swiftly rolled out by local authorities following a petition run by a feminist group Mujeres en Lucha and launched on Monday (local time).

New signs showing a man sitting with his legs spread will appear on trains, buses and metros in an attempt to curb the spread.

The new icons will appear alongside other public transport etiquette slogans, calling on people to keep their feet off the seats, stand for injured, elderly or pregnant people and to avoid smoking.

The new icon to be rolled out by Madrid authorities
The new icon to be rolled out by Madrid authorities Photo credit: Ayuntamiento Madrid/Twitter

"The new information icon indicates the prohibition of taking a seating position that bothers other people," Municipal Transportation Company (EMT) said in a statement on Wednesday (local time).

"It's to remind transport users to maintain civic responsibility and respect the personal space of everyone on board."

"It's not difficult to see women with their legs shut and very uncomfortable because there is a man next to them who is invading their space with his legs," the feminist group wrote on their petition.

A study of 5000 New Yorkers riding the subway in 2016 found 26 percent of men 'manspread' in their seats, compared to less than five percent of women.

Madrid's campaign to end the manspread follows in the footsteps of the city of New York, which ran a poster campaign in 2014 with the slogan "Dude, Stop the spread please."

New York's anti-manspread campaign
New York's anti-manspread campaign Photo credit: MTA

Social media users have long been taking to twitter, with both men and women complaining about men's legs invading their personal space.

One tweeter suggests dealing with the spread by letting your own leg gently touch the leg of the spreader. "...they recoil in homophobia," he tweeted.

Actor Tom Hanks took a virtual beating for committing the spread on the New York subway, after a fellow commuter took a photo of the actor crossing his legs widely, taking up two seats.

Speaking to James Corden in 2015, Mr Hanks agreed manspreaders are a nuisance, but he defended his spread in this particular instance, saying the train was half empty.

"You're either a really creepy guy or you're taking up two seats, [but] Internet, you idiot, the train was half empty. There was plenty of room!"

Watch the video to see Tom Hanks defend his manspread.