Maybe you guys can help me out. I'm on a crusade to end pole hugging on the subway. You know what I mean: the people who lean against the poles or wrap their entire body around while they read the paper. Help me spread the word!

Micahel F., East 20s

Of all the violations of subway etiquette - putting a bag on the only vacant seat or not moving to the middle of the car to make room for other riders - perhaps nothing shows an utter lack of consideration for work-weary commuters like pole hugging. Gothamist doesn't ride with a tape measurer, but would guess that the average subway pole can accommodate at least fifteen hands ranging in height from the smallest of children to the tallest NBA star.

Unfortunately, metal poles are too narrow for warning signs or instructions that might help end this scourge. What's a concerned straphanger to do?


If the pole hugger is from out of town, he or she will probably be amenable to any polite suggestion to hold on rather than lean or wrap. Tourists always have a more enjoyable time when they fell like they are doing as most New Yorkers do.

But with natives, it is up to considerate riders to decide what is the most effective - and don't forget safest - way to convert a hugger into a holder, even if it's only a temporary fix. A simple "excuse me" will probably work in most situations, but Gothamist is not against wedging our hands between the pole and the offending leaner's back, going so far as to jam a knuckle into a spine to send the proper message.

Gothamist sees plenty of signs on the subway telling riders not to run, ride between trains, or hold the doors and wonders what the MTA would do to encourage people to stop pole hugging.