An issue worth escalating

Thirty or 40 years ago, moving sidewalks were just a certainty by the Year 2000.

Remember how we’d refer to it like that – “the Year 2000” – like it was a special date?

Well, we did think it was a special date. It was going to be when we got jetpacks and skycars and ate meals in the shape of little pills.

And those moving sidewalks. Because actual walking was just so 20th century. Nothing would signal an advanced civilisation more than a populace who had forgotten how to walk.

For me, I’m actually glad we never got the moving footpaths because I'm keenly aware of the difficulties so many people have when it come to using an escalator.

The process of using an escalator is ridiculously simple. You walk up to it, keeping your pace constant as you step on. Then once you’re on, you stand to the left so others can pass.

At the end you step off and move away to allow those behind you to do the same thing.

And yet people struggle. Oh, how they struggle.

Some walk up to it and pause for a few seconds, as though they are confused this strange moving staircase and need to time figure it out.

Meanwhile a small queue of others wanting to get on the escalator builds up behind them. Sometimes they’ll change their mind, turn and walk away.

Other times, they’ll step on – apparently realising they can do so without the escalator eating their feet. And they stand in the middle, stopping anyone in a hurry from entering the overtaking lane (aka “the right-hand side of the escalator”).

At the end, they step off – and then stop dead. This  forces those behind them put on a sidestep to avoid a human pile-up. So clearly, we have a lot more work to do before we can have those moving sidewalks.


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