MTA campaign to target backpacks, ‘man spreading’

“Manspread” — a habit of some male New York subway riders who spread their legs beyond the confine of their hips to take up two, or even three, seats — is a source of increasing irritation for polite riders concerned about the comfort of others. Photo Credit: NYPD

Rude riders who unnecessarily take up space — backpack wearers and “man spreaders” — will get a refresher in transit manners.

The MTA by January will launch a new awareness campaign to get people to take off their backpacks and sit properly on the subway in a time of record ridership and overcrowded trains, transit officials said Monday. The “courtesy is contagious” slogan will also be retired for “something new, something fresh,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

The discourtesy of some subway riders had MTA board member Charles Moerdler telling agency brass he would like to see backpacks banned. Later, Moerdler explained he wants the transit rules of conduct to require riders to take off their backpacks. He realized the problem after a recent subway ride he took with his granddaughter who was wearing one “sticking out a mile back.”

“I believe that you ought to get them off the back and onto the floor so they don’t hit people when you make an inadvertent movement or the train comes to a sudden stop,” Moerdler said. The public awareness campaign the MTA is designing will include signs and possibly train announcements.

“What we need to do is focus on it so that people will understand that it’s the right thing to do,” Moerdler said. “When you get to the hard-core violators and courtesy doesn’t work, then you have to take enforcement action.”