Mexico City

Street Hero

by Stranger’s Guide

The streets of Mexico City aren’t a friendly place for unsuspecting pedestrians. Traffic in Mexico City is intense—according to data from GPS manufacturer TomTom, it’s the worst in the world. Pedestrians risk their necks each time they enter the crosswalk—pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists account for more than a third of all fatalities.

Enter Peatónito—the little pedestrian! Donning a black-and-silver lucha libre mask and a cape with the stripes of a crosswalk, Jorge Cáñez, a political scientist, will sweep into a crowded crosswalk and push back the cars that dare to encroach on zebra stripes. “My name is Peatónito, and I fight for the rights of pedestrians,” he sometimes tells the drivers. Peatónito’s work— coupled with that of a number of other activists—has led to significant reforms. Since 2012, when Cáñez began his crusade on the streets, Mexico City has reduced speed limits on major thoroughfares and adopted a Vision Zero policy that explicitly prioritizes pedestrian needs. Several major streets in the Centro Historico have been closed to cars to allow for easier transit by foot and bicycle. Over the last several years, Peatónito has even made appearances in New York City crosswalks, taking his cause international.

Peatónito isn’t the first community activist to don a mask. In the 1980s, Superbarrio put on a red and yellow mask and entered the ring to fight for the poor—famously, he took down “El Sida,” a wrestler representing AIDS—and later even joked about running for president of the US.


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Photo credit: Nathaniel Bruno


Life on the Road

#VanLife is, as Rachel Monroe put it in her New Yorker story last year, a “one-word life-style signifier that has come to evoke … a renewed interest in the American road trip, a culture of hippie-inflected outdoorsiness, and a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job.”

But all is not what it seems. “Everyday van life isn’t as glamorous as it might look,” one perma-camper told Outside magazine for a piece titled “The Unglamorous Realities of #VanLife.” It’s not all desert sunrises and mountain lakes. Life on the road can be tough. You can find yourself camping in less-than-beautiful spots or conditions—and you still have to find money for food and campsites.