Everyone living in a city will be aware of this: when you take the escalator, there is one golden rule you really should follow. You should always stand to the right so as to allow people in a hurry to be able to climb or descend the stairs on the left. According to a team of researchers from the University of Greenwich, about 25% of people do this, hoping they will shave a few precious moments off their journey.
However, according to scientists, this isn’t actually the most efficient way to use the escalator. As they have pointed out, this estimation means that 50% of the escalator is reserved for only 25% of users and so, mathematically-speaking, they are not being used as efficiently as they could be. In addition, as the author of an article from Slate has noted: ‘people tend to create more following distance on the walking side of the escalator versus the standing side.’
Difficult to stay still when in a hurry
To either confirm or prove this hypothesis wrong, a team of researchers conducted a life-size test in 2015 in the London Underground. For a period of three weeks, scientists asked travellers to stand still on both sides of an escalator.
Although the experiment was rather annoying for some people, the results were clear. On an escalator that, on a normal day, was used by 12,745 people between 8:30 am and 9:30 am, around 16,220 passengers managed to use it, an increase of more than 3,000 people.
The scientists believe that this experiment proves just how much the phrase ‘every man for himself’ really rings true in modern society and how little ‘there's no 'I' in team’ does. But, they concede:
People in a hurry generally do not want to stand still as there is a feeling that constantly moving means they are making progress.
Obviously, this doesn’t really mean a lot if the escalator is completely empty. But next time think: when it’s busy, a little patience goes a long way!