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Meet Peatónito, A Superhero Who Stands Up For Pedestrians
March 1, 2013
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peatonito-feature.jpg

Superheroes stand for all sorts of good things: Truth. Justice. Dressing up like a giant bat.

But what about protecting regular, everyday people? Like, say, pedestrians?

Well, there's a real-life superhero in Mexico City who's doing just that. He's called Peatónito (Peatón is Spanish for pedestrian, and the "-ito" suffix means "little"), and he runs around the city looking for drivers who are ignoring pedestrians.

Under the lucha libre wrestling mask is 26-year-old political scientist Jorge Cáñez (and some of his friends).

Cáñez says he's playing the role of Peatónito to protect the rarely respected rights of pedestrians in Mexico City, where an average of one pedestrian is killed by a motor vehicle every day, and many more are injured.

"The idea of being the defender of pedestrians just came because nobody, not even the authorities, not even the citizens, made something to improve the situation of the pedestrians," he told The Atlantic Cities by email.

Well, Peatónito is certainly doing something. He and his allies stand in the street and block cars that are ignoring pedestrian rights. They also paint crosswalks where they're missing, clear obstacles off sidewalks, and give speeches about the rights of the pedestrian.

Before Peatónito, Cáñez was fighting for pedestrian rights with a group that was painting crosswalks on the streets. But he says "I decided that we needed something more visible and friendly."

peatonito-duo.jpg

That's where the wrestling mask came in: "As you know, Mexican wrestling (Lucha Libre) is very popular in Mexico, is part of our culture. That's why I decided to rescue the values of Lucha Libre and take them to the streets... to reclaim justice for the king of the streets: the pedestrian."

But the work doesn't just happen on the street. Cáñez is also pushing public security officials to consider pedestrians in the design of streets, and traffic laws.

His efforts may have begun to pay off: officials are starting to talk about giving pedestrians priority, an important decision in a city that has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the world, according to a 2003 report from the Institute of Public Health of Mexico.

Via Grist

Related:

COMPLAINTS DEPARTMENT: Jesse Comacho On Slow-Moving Pedestrians

IMPROVE IT: City Biking

This Is What's Wrong With NYC Streets

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