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Fleeting Wonders: The Luchador Protecting Brooklyn’s Pedestrians

Peatónito, a self-appointed “pedestrian superhero,” has been climbing on cars all over New York City.

If you’re speeding through Brooklyn trying to make an appointment, a guy in a lucha libre mask probably won’t slow you down. But a guy in a crosswalk-themed lucha libre mask who climbs exuberantly on top of your car just might. Peatónito–the self-described “pedestrian superhero” who has taken his act from Mexico City to New York this week–certainly hopes so.

Peatónito is committed to bringing power back to an underrepresented urban contingent–people who walk. Dressed in a mask emblazoned with a familiar walking man, a zebra-striped cape, and Ramones shirt, he has been zipping around New York this past week as part of the Vision Zero Cities Conference, which aims to eliminate road deaths and injuries. So far, he’s been spotted fighting traffic crime in Queens and Brooklyn, and on the Williamsburg Bridge.

Peatónito is in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians from Cars in the Crosswalk from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

As he explains in a recent video by STREETFILMS, Peatónito was already a devoted pedestrian advocate in Mexico City when a trip to a lucha libre match inspired him to add some flair to his activism. Since then, he has spent his time pushing, sometimes literally, for better driving manners, climbing on top of cars and spiffing up crosswalks with spray paint. Confronting drivers as a showman rather than a cop makes them more likely to absorb his message, he says. “It all started like a joke,” he explains in the video. “But then it started to be a great way to do civic culture in the streets.”

Unsurprisingly, Brooklyn has proven to be full of vehicular villains. At Atlantic and Flatbush, a vast expanse of lanes where cars turn with abandon, Peatónito conspired with crossing guards and fearlessly escorted pedestrians across the wide expanse. Northwest on Jay Street, which is plagued by double-parking and bike lane blocking, he gave space-hogging cars an encouraging push, and talked patiently but firmly to drivers. When officials fail to enforce traffic laws, he says, “we as citizens have to stand for our rights, and tell the cars to go away.”

Peatónito trains a protégé.

Peatónito trains a protégé. (Image: STREETFILMS/Vimeo

Peatónito can’t do it alone. If you’d like to be his sidekick (or adversary), keep an eye out for the car-wrestler’s signature outfit and enthusiasm around the city today and tomorrow.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.