It’s time to start enforcing the law of escalators. That law is: When riding an escalator, stand on the right and walk on the left. This is by no means a law exclusive to New York. It applies anywhere in the world there are escalators. Stand on the right. Walk on the left. It’s easy and simple.
No one is required to walk up the escalator if they don’t want to. By all means, relax and enjoy the ride if it amuses you or if you are injured, elderly or just tired. But be sure that you stand to the right to let others pass. Your condition is no excuse to deprive others the precious freedom of movement or delay their getting home to their loved ones.
And when someone says “excuse me” on an escalator and you’re standing on the left, move. Step immediately to the right and let people pass. I don’t care how much luggage you have or how much you like standing next to the person you’re with, move. Tired after walking all day? Move. Don’t understand English? ¡Muévete! Bougez! 이동! Muoviti! 移動！Move immediately and without complaint or accept being shoved or trampled. A good rule of enforcement is to say “Excuse me” politely three times. If the person is still in your way, knock them to the right where they belong or stomp them down so you may walk over them.
Think of our sidewalks, stairs and walkways as roads with lanes. Just as the left lane is for passing on our highways, it’s for passing on our walkways as well. You know that horribly frustrating feeling you get when some doofus is driving 55 miles per hour or slower in the passing lane? Imagine that same feeling amplified 10 times when you see the train you are trying to catch and a polite “Excuse me” goes unheeded several times.
I understand that New York is filled with many people from parts of the country and world where escalators may not be common. When I worked at JFK Airport, the escalator in the American Airlines arrivals terminal would be shut off when the flights from Haiti arrived because passengers from those flights were so unfamiliar with escalators. People from the third world or rural parts of the U.S. get a six month grace period to learn how to use an escalator; that’s being generous.
Let’s educate our fellow man and enforce the law of the escalator with sharp elbows and steel-toed boots.