Train Etiquette: 10 Rules of Riding the Rails

No 'Manspreading'
Dude, remember you only paid for one seat. Charlie Schuck/UpperCut Images/Getty Images

The message is plastered all over New York City's subway cars on 46-inch (117-centimeter) or 72-inch (183-centimeter) placards: "Dude ... Stop the Spread, Please." The message refers to the dreaded "manspread," the practice many males have of sitting in a slouched position with their legs spread wide open in a "V." What's the big deal? When a guy manspreads, he typically takes up two seats -- and sometimes three -- as his knees and legs extend into the seating space on either side of him. That's rude. And gross. Further, the position is a bit of an intimate one, which makes some people uncomfortable. Women sometimes view manspreading as an aggressive posture, which can be a bit unnerving.

Interestingly, this was also a problem in the 1940s and '50s. The New York Transit Museum has a decades-old public service campaign poster that depicts a guy manspreading, although in the poster he's more politely dubbed a "space hog." So if a dude can't manspread, what's the alternative? One etiquette expert said the proper position is legs parallel, rather than in a V-shape. Or he can cross his legs at the ankle. The short train ride won't affect virility [source: Fitzsimmons].