Serious Question: Is It REALLY Ever Okay To Stop And Stand On A Moving Escalator Full Of People?

December 18, 2012  |  


While going through through my usual routine to get to work today, I got off at my designated train station and mentally prepared myself for the day. To get said day started on the right foot, I always hope for three things: That the train won’t be late, that if lucky, I’ll get to sit down and rest my legs for a little bit on the train, and that when I get off and get on the escalator, the person behind me WON’T stand right up on me, disregarding my personal space. Today I had the luck of having all this occur, and as I rode the escalator up, once again, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for all that would come with my work day–the good, the bad, and the foolery. But while thinking, I noticed on the other side of the narrow escalator I was going up on, the escalator going down had some action going on. Presumably trying to make it to the train on time before it pulled off, a man moved down the stairs only to be stopped by two women who had decided that instead of walking down the escalator, they wanted to stop and enjoy the ride. On most large escalators, people who are feeling like the escalator is the place to chill move to one side while people trying to get to where they need to be move to the other side and proceed on their merry way. But in this particular station (and there are others like it), we were in a pretty confined space, and you can’t move up or down at a faster pace unless those in front of you are willing to do so and lead the way.

Feeling extremely held back, this fella was one of the first I had ever seen open up his mouth and say something about the break these women were taking on the escalator, and I can’t say that it ended well. Face turned up, the man said, “Uh, excuse me, could you move down the stairs?” Irritated by the question and probably the lack of a “please” in that request, the woman in front of him turned around and in a similar tone said “NO!” From there, they started to bicker, and as my upward bound escalator pulled me up and their downward one dragged them away from my view, yelling back and forth at one another, I was only left to ponder how their argument finally ended.

Walking to my job, I wondered how many people really think stopping on crowded escalators at most times of the day is a good idea. I’ve had friends who have done it and left me standing behind them trying to look sorry in front of the crowd of mean-mugging people behind me. And I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to rush down an escalator myself to get to what sounds like a waiting train only to have the people in front of me stand back and kick it on a crowded escalator. “Really? REALLY?” I often think to myself, but I’m not as bold as homeboy was, so I often just suck it up and hope the next train won’t take too long. However, it’s annoying–to me at least. While I’m not down for forcing people to do what they don’t want to, I’m definitely not a fan of folks blocking other people from getting and going where they want and need to be. If it’s late and there are a sparse number of people moving along on the escalator, then I can understand stopping and standing, but when we’re talking about the morning rush or the after-work chaos, nobody has time for that. It’s the same thing as stopping on a flight of crowded stairs, or letting your child walk from step to step up stairs when they can barely keep up with you, all while others are trying to move around you. There’s a time and place for everything, and slow playing during peak times and looking at other people crazy because they’re trying to keep from wasting time isn’t cool. They call it a rat race for a reason folks…

But what do you think? Are you guilty of doing this?

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  • Yes, it is. It’s perfectly normal. In civilised countries, people tend to stand to one side if they insist on standing, that way there’s still a steady flow of walking traffic moving. Standing ON the escalator, fine…but don’t be the dildo who gets to the end of the escalator and stops in front of it.

  • Clint JCL

    Ableist entitled bullshit whining

  • i’m quite certain if you said “excuse me” they’d move so you could get your workout on. also they do have stairs for those who like to walk up and down stairs all day.

  • Trisha_B

    I always thought you move to the right side of the escalator if you just wanted to stand & anyone that wanted to run, got the left side. Where i live, not all subways have stairs to take. Only got escalators & elevators.

  • Candacey Doris

    If you want to run, take the stairs! The escalator is for people who are too tired to move it (or just lazy). Sometimes you need to take the ride rather than going quickly. It’s different if there is a sign for standers to move over, but if there isn’t then cool your jets and take the stairs next time.

  • Kaori

    No! If you want to take your time, then you should be using the stairs. It is also improper to stand on the left side if you are not going to keep it moving. The right side is for people who want to stand or take their time and the left side is for people who want to get up the escalator or stairs quickly. THERE IS A REASON WHY THE STEPS MOVE!

    I ride the bus and I sure as heck am not about to wait 30 minutes for the next bus because you don’t know how to properly use the stairs or escalator.

  • Charla

    The escalator technically is for standing. In DC, it’s known that you stand to the right and people who want to walk are on the left. Pretty simple except for the tourists who are hip to the rule.

  • Diana

    I use an escalator every morning at work and it annoys the hell out of me when someone behind me is running up behind me expecting me to move! If you are in that big of a hurry, you should of left the house earlier! I wear 4 1/2 inch heels and I’m not gonna risk falling while trying to help you get to your damn desk sooner!

    • TRUTH IS

      Just step aside in your 4 1/2 inch heels….simple!!!!

      • Diana

        You have options at my job other than the escalator: regular stairs or elevator. Use one of those and we won’t have a problem!

        • TRUTH IS

          Because you say so?? Even if I am standing/riding the escalator, I will not be standing/riding in the middle. I will stand aside. basic common sense!!!

          • diana

            This is seriously a pet peeve of mine. The escalator at my work is not a wide escalator. If it was wide enough to allow someone to pass by, then I wouldn’t mind them passing. However, since it is narrow, I’m not gonna allow some stranger brushing up beside me or stepping on my feet so they can get to their desk because they are running late. Unless it is a fire or someone having a baby, I don’t feel I have to move just because someone needs to get to their desk because they were running late. So, you can pout or be pissed, but I’m not moving!

    • Kaori

      Why do you assume that that person didn’t leave the house on time? I leave early all of the time, but with how crappy public transportation is, I have to find a way to make up for it. When I run or walk quickly up the escalator or stairs, it isn’t because I didn’t leave the house on time. It is because the bus arrived at the subway station 10 minutes late and now I only have 2 minutes to get down to the buses or risk having to wait 30 minutes for the next one.

  • Niki

    I used to live in London, on the escalators there are signs clearly stating stand to the right. Those who want to walk or run up the escalators do so on the left. Now if you want to stand on the left you run the risk of getting hit by those who want to walk. I have been guilty of doing this many times and I never felt guilty…. If you fail to read the sign you will be hit by either my elbow or handbag. If I am feeling nice, I may say excuse before I run pass you.

  • kierah

    In many of my travels, I have seen signage for people to stand to the right so others can pass on the left. It seems like the best way to keep the foot traffic moving.

    If you are at the 53rd and Lexington stop escalators which is 6 flights of stairs equivalent, you can imagine the traffic jam created when 2 trains come in at once. It is actually hazardous to impede traffic. If you are the one holding up the line the morning, you’ll hear a voice from the foot of the escalator asking “Would you please step to the right so we can pass? Thanks!” That’s me.

    • Marie

      Agreed. I get off at Lex and 53rd all the time. That escalator is wide enough for you to step to the right and allow people to pass. Inevitably, there will be people who want to stand side by side and chat. Plain selfish!

  • Dee

    You don’t have to walk but I feel its courtesy and respect to get out of the way of people who are in a hurry. You might not be in a hurry today but tomorrow you might be in a place where you need someone to make way for you.

  • aliengirl

    You’ve got to be from NYC. Go through the same thing everyday. There is plenty of room for the standers and the climbers/descenders to both do their thing. You know, stand to the right, walk to the left please. If you don’t want to walk, just move to the left side and everyone gets what they want.

  • IvyNoLeague

    Um , thats what escalators are for thats why you also have the option of using the stairs.
    If you’re in a rush use the stairs you will get down quicker in my opinion . I take my time when i am on the escalator and i can careless who upset. I don’t understand some people .

  • Say What?

    That’s what the escalator is for, I for one get annoyed by the people who want to run up/down them when there are stairs next to it. If you wanted to get your cardio on then take you’re behind to the gym.

    • Kaori

      Actually, the slow people should use the stairs.

      • Say What?

        While I’m aware of the custom surrounded by the escalator it wasn’t made with the thought of standing to one side in mind. You can sleep in a car, but you don’t see Chevy, Ford, etc making that a selling point.


    In NYC it is….because it such a hustle and bustle city. I cannot deal with people who do that on the escalator, by an entry or wherever…step aside and things willbe smoother!!

    • MNEditor2

      I think it might just be a big city thing in general, because a lot of the time, especially going in subway stations, there is only the escalator. And when that’s the case, no one’s asking you to run (most don’t), you can even walk slowly, but pleeeeeeease just don’t stop and stand and hold everyone back.

      • TRUTH IS

        Exactly!! I strongly agree!!