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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kai Brinker

Why you should always walk on escalators

Will Gleason

Earlier this week, a local newspaper published an unfortunate and misguided piece concluding that everyone would be better off if we all just stood on escalators, like business casual lambs being unknowingly led to slaughter. This is demonstrably false. 

First of all, the piece itself admits that escalator company Otis doesn’t believe walking or standing results in more damage to the machinery. Second, the main example cited, of an experiment conducted in the London Underground, fails to take into account that NYC and London commuters are completely different. For instance, the study itself was prompted by the fact that the left side of escalators in Holborn Station, one of London’s busiest, were largely empty.

Show me an empty left side of a subway escalator in New York, and I will shower you in unlimited MetroCards and reserve you a seat on the L train for a year.

Not only does standing on a busy escalator (especially the left side) most definitely not make the world a better place, it makes it a considerably worse one. Who among us has not had the darkest of thoughts while running late and then unexpectedly getting stuck behind a left-side stander? The only other time that New Yorkers feel so angry while staring at someone’s back is when their barista takes more than two minutes to make their latte.

Even if you do the seemingly polite thing, and stand on the right side of the escalator, you’re still not completely blameless. Girl, you know your bag is still getting in the way of everybody walking up the left side. You know it. The five people behind you with the same Strand tote bag know it. And lord knows, my bruised thighs know it.

On top of all that, let’s get real. Any escalator you’re planning on taking in the New York subway system is probably broken, anyways. So you might as well get used to walking. (Note: None of this applies to the escalators in the subway station at Hudson Yards because those are scary AF. Not only should you stand completely still while riding up that moon shot, but you should probably harness yourself in as well.)


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