Why the Accepted Escalator Practice of Standing Right Walking Left Isn’t Necessarily the Most Efficient

A conveying report for Cheddar explains how the commonly accepted international etiquette rule of “stand right, walk left” is not necessarily the most efficient way of riding an escalator. This practice puts undue weight on one side of the escalator leading to malfunction and increased exit congestion.

Additionally, escalators were not made for walking, as the steps are far taller and steeper than those on a staircase. The suggested method, instead, is standing in the center of the step. Cities that have implemented “no escalator walking” rules have found greater efficiency and reduced downtime. As seen with airline boarding, human habits are hard to change. Particularly when restrictions are put into place.

Overburdened and aging escalators are common and can lead to horrific accidents. As a result, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as escalator manufacturers, recommends standing in the center of the escalator and holding onto the handrail. But that would mean giving up something critically important to commuters the right to choose.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.