It’s not just rude to pass on the escalator; it’s inefficient. (Photo: renaissancechambara/Wikimedia Commons)
There are at least two types of escalator riders: walkers and standers.
Walkers think that escalators exist to quicken their pace, while standers typically see them as moving rest stops.
Both walkers and standers therefore run the risk of operating under two differing rules of etiquette, each accusing the other of being impolite.
Walkers see standers as obstructions that prevent them from moving briskly along, while standers see walkers as impatient passersby who rudely cut them off.
The truth is, though, that the general purpose of escalators is to direct and coordinate the flow of pedestrian traffic, not to speed us up or to enable laziness or inactivity.
So the question of whether it’s the walkers or the standers who are in the right actually has an objective measure;
it’s not just a subjective matter of preference. Science can weigh in.
Which escalator strategy, then, is more efficient at moving pedestrian traffic?
Should you walk or stand?
The simple answer: you should stand.
To understand why, consider the numbers. First of all, we know that there are far more standers than walkers.
For instance, a 2013 study showed that 74.9 percent of pedestrians choose to stand on the escalator instead of walk, reports The Conversation.
This is important because we need to consider the way that most people are choosing to move naturally when weighing efficiency.
Walkers might move faster, but they’re also causing more relative disruption.