「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Stopping manspreading

By Anthony Fensom


Crime is a disease: Meet the cure,” said Sylvester Stallone in Cobra. But how would the tough street cop handle the global scourge of “manspreading”

Manspreading is described as the practice ― usually by men ― of train passengers spreading their legs out and taking up far more space than they need. It is a familiar sight for commuters in cities from Tokyo to Washington, but finally the authorities are fighting back.

In December, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched a new campaign aimed at manspreading and other bad behaviour on trains. Their message was simple: “Dude … stop the spread, please: It’s a space issue.”

New York’s campaign followed moves by passengers to publicly shame the manspreaders by posting their photos online. The need for better manners also reflects a jumpin the number of New York subway passengers, from 5.1 million passengers a day 10 years ago to more than 6 million currently.

Tokyo’s crowded trains are legendary, and the railway authorities have long fought against bad manners, including manspreading. As far back as the 1970s, designer Hideya Kawakita created a number of humorous posters to inspire better manners on trains. This included one in 1976 called “The Great Monopolizer,” inspired by the famous Charlie Chaplin movie, The Great Dictator.

As recently as 2013, Tokyo’s Odakyu Line produced a poster aimed at manspreading, with a standing customer wondering why five men with Afro hairstyles were taking up space for seven people.

While Japan’s rail commuters are among the world’s quietest and politest passengers, obviously the message still needs reinforcement.

In Australia, Queensland Rail launched a campaign in 2010 called “Train etiquette ― super simple stuff.” The railway produced a number of posters and videos highlighting good manners, including putting bags under seats and vacating seats designated for the elderly or pregnant women.

Will manspreading ever be stopped? As well as punitive measuressuch as fines, another solution could be positive reinforcement for good behaviour.

Before last year’s APEC summit in Beijing, the city offered cash prizes and public recognition for well-behaving commuters, with more than 8,000 guides deployed to encourage compliance.

Undoubtedly though, Stallone would have a more direct solution, probably involving considerable pain for the offender.

With the world’s big cities getting bigger, public transport is set to become even more crowded. This makes good manners vital if we are to improve the quality of our daily commute.



The Japan Times ST: February 6, 2015

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