Stand Still or Walk On? The Old Escalator Dilemma Seems to Have Been Finally Scientifically Solved

    Stand Still or Walk On? The Old Escalator Dilemma Seems to Have Been Finally Scientifically Solved

    Stand Still or Walk On? The Old Escalator Dilemma Seems to Have Been Finally Scientifically Solved
    Greg
    10:54 AM EDT, June 24, 2023, updated: 5:35 PM EDT, June 26, 2023

    The question how we should behave on escalators have been stirring a lot of controversy both among scientists and etiquette experts.

    BENCE BOROS/unsplash
    BENCE BOROS/unsplash

    What should we do?

    I think we all have happened to rush all the way up the escalators passing other people one after another. Although escalators are not a new invention, even today scientists differ from etiquette expert in terms of how we should actually make use of this useful device.

    Heamosoo Kim/unsplash
    Heamosoo Kim/unsplash

    The savoir-vivre approach

    Savoir-vivre experts are sick and tired of couples holding hands and blocking the way for the faster ones. Last but not least, this is to help people get upstairs at any desired pace.

    According to these experts, the truth is in the middle. We should stick to the right side (with the handrail) leaving the left side for those in a hurry. In this respect this is similar to the traffic rule where you use the left lane to overtake.

    Arthur Edelmans/unsplash
    Arthur Edelmans/unsplash

    The scientific approach

    The scientists also decided to tackle the escalator problem. They analysed some London escalators and found out that 74.9% of escalator users prefers standing still while being carried upstairs. Then they went on to ban walking on escalators and it turned out that escalators became even more efficient as many more people were transported within the same period of time.

    Tom Parsons/unsplash
    Tom Parsons/unsplash

    Like a herd of sheep

    Scientists explain the phenomenon comparing it to the so-called 'herd instinct'. In crowded spaces pedestrians move more slowly not only because of lack of space. It is also the necessity to make choices that affects it ('Stand still? Take over? Walk? Slow Down? Speed up?'). These small decisions can really wear you off mentally. That is why many people prefer following the crowd and act like the majority. And this is when the herd drive improves the efficiency of transport.

    MontyLov/unsplash
    MontyLov/unsplash

    Bearing in mind the finding of the experiment, it would be advisable to implement one rule: we all have to either stand still or walk. This is how the efficiency of transport can defeat the comfort of being self-centered.

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