To the Angry Man on the Escalator: You’re Wrong, We’re Right!
An angry man was shouting at people on the escalator at a Hudson Valley mall last week, so I had to prove him wrong.
Living alongside strangers can be challenging. There are some times when no one else seems to be on the same page as you are. However, yelling about it and making a fool of yourself isn't probably the best way to handle the situation.
Last week I ventured into one of the Hudson Valley's local shopping malls to pick up a few items I just couldn't wait for Amazon to deliver to me. It had been quite some time since I'd been in the mall so I decided to walk around for a little bit and check the place out. As I made my way up the escalator I heard some commotion behind me. I turned around to find a man huffing and puffing and muttering to himself. He threw his hands up in the air and yelled a loud "excuse me!" at the people in front of him, explaining that they were standing in his way.
Confused about what was happening, I turned around to listen as he stormed past me. The perturbed shopper muttered something as he passed about how the escalator "isn't a ride." and pushed his way forward.
The incident got me thinking, "was he right?" Is the escalator meant to be walked up or is it there to stand on? This lead me down a rabbit hole of opinion pieces and research into the behavior of pedestrians that finally resulted in the answer I was looking for.
Should you walk or stand on the escalator?
It turns out that the man yelling at us on the escalator was dead wrong. According to research, you should never walk on an escalator. It turns out that people who walk on escalators are actually causing more congestion than those who simply stand.
While it's true that your time on the escalator is shorter if you just walk, it actually adds to congestion and causes a longer wait before getting on. The New York Times published a study that shows standing on an escalator reduces congestion by a whopping 30 percent.
The reason standing is preferred to walking is because someone who is in motion takes up almost twice as much room as a person standing still. An escalator can hold many more people who are standing still than people who are all trying to walk at the same time.
The numbers don't lie
According to the study, the average time a person spends on an escalator is 40 seconds. When they walk up the escalator, that time drops by about 14 seconds. However, the time for the entire process which includes waiting to get on the escalator and making it all the way to the top decreased significantly when everyone just stood still.
Why not walk on the left and stand on the right?
Some people argue that those who wish to stand should just stay to the right and allow walkers to pass on the left. While that seems to be a natural solution, it turns out that it's unfair to the majority of people who are stuck waiting to get onto the escalator.
Researchers found that when 40 percent of people walked, the average time to get on the escalator and make it up to the top was 138 seconds. When everyone just stood, the time dropped to 59 seconds. To me, that's a pretty good argument for everyone just standing on the elevator and not walking.
The angry escalator walker was wrong
So, to the frustrated escalator walker who yelled at everyone as he was stomping his way to the second floor, I say this. "You were wrong." Next time, instead of getting riled up, just relax and stand on the escalator like everyone else. We'll all get where we're going faster and you can save yourself and the rest of the people on the escalator the unneeded aggravation.