Peatónito Fights the Cars

The superhero that New York needs lives in Mexico City

Even the chillest New Yorkers sometimes shake their fist at a car-filled crosswalk. But in Mexico City, urbanites outsource the job of fighting traffic to a masked vigilante. He calls himself Peatónito — which is Spanish for “little pedestrian” — and he is the world’s first superhero dedicated to truth, justice, and pedestrians’ right of way.

Known for preaching the pedestrian revolution, pushing cars out of the crosswalk, and helping little old ladies across the street, the local superhero sees his costume (the mask and cape of a luchador, or Mexican wrestler) and his demeanor (“Be polite!” he warns) as an artistic spectacle, designed to snap drivers out of the monotony of gridlock and help them see how the city could work better.

“Mexico City, like most cities, is very chaotic, so you just have to go outside to find motorists breaking the law,” Peatónito explains. “I go through the motorists one by one, saying hello and telling them the traffic law in a friendly way. Some drivers get mad at me, but I just explain to them that they are breaking the law, and that as a vigilante of the streets, it is my duty to correct them.”

Peatónito likes to think of the law-breaking drivers he encounters as pedestrians who got stuck behind the wheel, and he considers his work to be less of a confrontation than an invitation to share the streets. He knows that infrastructure could change car culture in Mexico City, but believes progress requires drivers to be willing to fight for a better city, too.

“The most aggressive thing I do is to walk on the top of cars when they are parked on the sidewalk, but my mother tells me not to do this anymore,” says Peatónito. “The one thing I never do is try to stop pedestrians who may jaywalk. What I want to build is a car-free city, where pedestrians do not have such obligations, where they are king and queen, and they do not have rules to walk around.”

Mexico City’s superhero encourages New Yorkers to follow his lead. In a city where blocking the box is par for the course, pedestrians here could certainly use a hero. Ayúdanos Peatónito!

Like what you read? Give Jessie Singer a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.