Accidents involving escalators are fairly frequent as we are always rushing about trying to catch a train or not paying attention. However a few years ago researchers concluded that standing still on an escalator to smooth passage would cause less accidents
A revolutionary invention which caused accidents
The fist escalator (or mechanical staircase) was a tourist attraction toward the end of the 19th century in the United States. At the same time, notably under the impetus of the Otis company, similar concepts were adapted to metro stations, department stores and businesses.
Perceived as revolutionary this means of transporting people has often caused accidents. In November 2018 a man fell from an escalator in a shopping centre in Brisbane, Australia and is currently in a coma. In October 2018 in Rome, Italy a section of an escalator collapsed under the weight of a group of Russian supporters leaving a football match between AS Rome and CSKA Moscow.. This accident resulted in 20 people injured and one with serious injuries that could have led to an amputation.
A study with surprising results
Obviously escalators must be held partly to blame although the examples mentioned above may be slightly extreme. However, a British study conducted by the University of Greenwich in 2011 showed that, on average, 75% of people stood still on escalators while the remaining 25% liked to walk.
However, researchers concluded that escalators could be more effective if no one walked at all. By observing the London Underground, the main authors of the study determined that 112.5 people per minute could travel on an escalator standing two by two, side by side and motionless, against 81.25 people with one immobile line and a path left free for users wishing to go faster by walking.
Professionals question security
The world’s second-largest escalator manufacturer Otis was contacted by the New York Times who wanted to question the company about their long standing safety concerns. They believe that passengers should not walk on escalators, but remain motionless and stand on the ramp while remaining vigilant.
According to the South China Morning Post, cities such as Tokyo (Japan) and Hong Kong have been talking for some years about taking measures to try to ban walking in escalators. In 2015, a campaign was held in Hong Kong to make safety precautions on escalators, and the number of accidents did decrease. In fact the East Japan Railway Co. attempted to develop a safety plan in 2016. However they also mentioned that people are used to having one side free for people to walk while the other side was for people to remain motionless.