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MTA To Launch Campaign Aimed At Curbing 'Manspreading' On Public Transit

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you take the subway, bus or train, you've probably seen men who take up more than just their seat.

As CBS2's Vladimir Duthiers reported, the issues is now the focus of a new MTA campaign.

Sitting on a crowded subway can be a lesson in sharing. Each person is allotted 17.5 inches -- the width of an average seat.

But for some, that's simply not enough.

So what is "manspreading?"

"Manspreading is when men take up too much room on the subway by spreading their legs in a wide V. Like geese traveling," explained actress Kelley Rae O'Donnell.

O'Donnell has become an anti-manspreading activist, making stopping the spread a personal mission.

"I guess you would call it subway shaming? It's what my friends accuse me doing," she said.

Three years ago O'Donnell started taking pictures of people -- mostly men -- spreading out, and posting them on Twitter.

"I spend a lot of time commuting back and forth into Manhattan from Brooklyn," she said. "And there was so much of it on these crowded trains that I just starting taking pictures. Mostly because they wouldn't move for people or allow other people to sit down."

O'Donnell said manspreading comes in many different forms, from the "hard day at work manspread" to the "multi-manspreaders," and even the "I'm giving my reindeer a rest manspread."

Entire blogs are dedicated to pointing out egregious seating, including one where cats are superimposed between men's wide open stances.

So why do men spread?

"It gets hot on the train. You need a little bit more room," said "It's more comfortable. The other way's a little restraining."

Some were a little shy talking after getting caught in the act.

"Is this 42nd Street? I've gotta get off!"

But Kevin Ortiz with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it's an issue customers have noticed, "and for lack of a better word can be an annoyance."

"This is an issue that we've heard from our female customers about in particular," he added.

So for the first time the MTA is asking men to mind the gap by putting up posters reminding riders to be more considerate of others.

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