Peatónito: Using Lucha Libre to Fight for Pedestrian Rights

This past week, BYO attended Social Media Week, a global event about “exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media”. See a recap of social media week on our BYO consulting blog

One of the events we attended was a panel discussion called "It’s My City: Civic Participation In Urban Development." The discussion comprised of in-person and video chat panelists who addressed questions around how to get citizens actively involved in creating smarter cities. Panelists included representatives from UNICEF, Code for America, SeeClickFix, Purpose, Cidades para Pessoas, and Meu Rio

One of the most interesting stories that came out of the discussion was from Natália Garcia of Cidades para Pessoas. Natália is doing an amazing project where she spends time in different cities around the world investigating and documenting the good ideas that have made life better for its residents. She hopes to expand upon these good ideas and bring improvements to the cities in her home country of Brazil. 

The story she told us was about Peatónito, an amazing man who fights for the rights of pedestrians in Mexico City, appropriately dressed as a luchador.

image"The pedestrian is 1st" 

Mexico City has a lot of vehicular traffic, which has led to a high number of pedestrian injuries. About 9500 pedestrians are injured each year.

Peatónito (peatón is pedestrian in spanish) dresses up as a Luchador and fights for pedestrian rights. The mask he wears looks like Mexico City’s “pedestrian crossing” signs and his message is that “walking is an ideal form of transportation in a city as dense as Mexico City. It takes up less space; it does not pollute and it provides a healthy form of daily exercise. The message is that walking should be more important in Mexico City mobility policy.”

One of the coolest things he does is painting crosswalks and pedestrian paths where they don’t currently exist. He also removes obstacles from sidewalks and works with street vendors to make sure that there is enough room for not only pedestrians, but wheelchair users.

image
Peatónito helps a blind man cross the street — there are no traffic lights in this area of the city.

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Peatónito paints a line in the street to create a wider area for pedestrians to walk.

How does this project make the world a better place? 

"Decades of car-centred strategies make it difficult to move towards more sustainable mobility patterns. This is why the actions of Peatónito are important and inspiring. As a local superhero, he presents a friendly character to inspire people to change their habits and behaviour. In a city of millions this is a big challenge but his actions, and the support for them, strengthen the position of the pedestrian as a key aspect of the mobility agenda. Through the dissemination of information via public performances and social networks, this superhero has become an active stakeholder." 

Who is the intended audience? 
Residents and government officials of Mexico City.

How can our audience extend the impact of this work?
Peatónito teaches us two important lessons: 1. the power of taking action and 2. the importance of finding ways to connect with your audience.

He is fighting for his cause by actually doing something - instead of lobbying for more sidewalks he paints them himself. In one case this inspired the mayor of Mexico City to actually construct the sidewalk he painted. Furthermore, he is doing it in a way which connects to his audience. Lucha Libre is very popular in Mexico, and by embodying the spirit of a luchador he is able to connect with residents who might not otherwise pay attention of issues of transportation and mobility. 

All photos from Peatónito’s facebook page. See more photos + updates from Peatónito on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peatonito and twitter: https://twitter.com/peatonito

Quotes from Case Study: http://www.eltis.org/index.php?id=13&study_id=3596

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