Madrid bans 'manspreading' on buses

A petition signed by 10,000 people was presented to Madrid city hall.

Steps are being taken to ban 'manspreading' on public transport in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

Campaigners appealed to the city council about the issue of men invading personal space with splayed legs, resulting in Madrid’s EMT transport corporation introducing a new set of stickers to be placed on all city buses.

The change comes about after a group called Mujeres en Lucha (Women at War) launched a social network campaign against ‘manspreading’ and presented a petition signed by 10,000 people to Madrid city hall.

"It's a question of culture. We women have always been told to occupy the least amount of space possible, and men haven't," said a leader of the anti-manspreading campaign, Alejandra de la Fuente.

The stickers seen across Spanish buses

Madrid council, led by a coalition backed by the left-wing Podemos party, said the new rule was aimed specifically at “male transport users [who] open their legs and occupy two places”.

The council also pointed out that other anti-social behaviour was being targeted in the new notices, including putting feet on seats and listening to loud music on headphones.

Madrid council said that other cities around the world had also mounted campaigns against ‘manspreading’, and Podemos announced that it had tabled a motion in the Madrid regional parliament to extend the ban to the capital’s Metro underground network.

“We believe that putting a name to, and making visible these kinds of daily sexist behaviour that go unnoticed, is the way ahead to become more aware, seeing what we used not to see and leaving inequality and machismo behind,” said Clara Serra of Podemos in presenting the motion.

Do we need a ban?

Madrid’s regional transport chief, Ángel Garrido of the conservative Popular Party, said there was no need to ban ‘manspreading’ as “current rules state that it is one seat per passenger”.

Madrid follows in the footsteps of many other cities.

Two years ago New York launched a campaign against the prickly issue of ‘manspreading’ on the city’s subway.

First posters were put up urging “dudes” to “stop the spread”, followed by reported arrests for taking up more than one seat.