Monday, July 24, 2006

The down escalator domino effect

This is something that bugs me to some minor degree on a daily basis, but today, it was bad enough to compel me to write about it!

Those of you who take BART regularly know that people who are in a hurry or just like to walk faster, take the left side of the escalator and stairs, and those who can't walk fast, prefer to stand as the escalator moves, or just have plenty of time to spare, are supposed to take the right side of the escalator or stairs. Common courtesy, widely-accepted by most daily commuters, or at least, it should be.

Well...this scenario I'm about to describe actually apply to people who are more often on the left side, people who like to move more quickly. Do you ever notice the tendency for some escalator riders to suddenly stop walking down along the downward movement of the (down) escalator, just about 5 steps away from the platform? I know it's just 5 steps until we have no more steps to walk down, but just let the movement carry you to your final step...why suddenly stop walking down and put a sudden halt to the 15 people walking behind you to the same speed/downward rhythm? Instead, these people stops walking all of a sudden as we are about 5 to 6 steps away from the lower platform, as if they are scared or hesitant to take the last few steps as the down escalator diminishes. Or, maybe they forget that there is an endless line of people walking down behind them like robots who are not prepared to suddenly stop their bodies from moving (or falling) forward.

Today, I was in the middle of a domino effect that ended badly with a few people on the ground. Luckily, I was about 7 people away from the source of the problem, so I had the time to quickly step aside to avoid a tumble. Everyone was walking down the escalator in a steady pace when this woman decides that she is too close to the end of the escalator steps and must stop. The man behind her, naturally not prepared for this red light, walks right into her, while the woman behind him, walks into him and pushing the first woman down on her knees. At this point, the woman was blocking the entire escalator exit to the platform, causing everyone on their way down to either step into the man and woman #2 already on the ground and join them, or to piss off the escalator riders on the right side by forcefully invade their territory in order to maintain their balance.

It was a big mess!!! There were 3 people on the ground, and many squeezed awkwardly on the right side trying to avoid becoming part of the tumble. As this was happening, a Dublin/Pleasanton train comes and goes. (Luckily, not my train!)

Why? Tell me why must someone stop their walk down the escalator before the steps actually end? I know this scenario is impossible to picture if you don't know what I'm talking about, but my goodness, I've always hate being stuck in back of people like that because usually, my train's door is wide open while they decide to halt their speed, and by the time I actually get down to the platform, the train is gone!!!!

5 comments:

ConcordCommuter said...

Perhaps this sounds mean-spirited, but I believe it serves her right. Stopping like she did is discourteous to others. Too many people who ride transit remain oblivious to the fact that there are other people around you, and we all depends on the courtesy of each other to have a pleasant experience. I feel bad for the other two who ended up on the ground as a result of her ignorance.

I never did understand why BART couldn't just put up a few signs like they do at airports to remind people "WALK LEFT / STAND RIGHT"

You could even just paint "WALK" and "STAND" on the steps of the escalator.

rafael said...

I notice that there is a big difference as far as what city we are talking about is concerned. Here in San Bruno it's more liesurely paced and people do stop suddenly in front of me and I expect that. I see it all the time. Except when you are at the Montgomery Station after 5pm there is a lot more people moving and running down the escalator. The common courtesy rule is in affect and it's dog eat dog going down that escalator. I've seen people fall at the Montgomery station and people get mad bacuase they have fallen. So, instead of being nice and helping them up - they just walk around or over the fallen.

Anonymous said...

My only question is, "What did the Station Agent do?"

Anonymous said...

A sign that says "walk left, stand right" sure would help. Airports have that, why can't BART?

Anonymous said...

bart should put up signs ("walk left, stand right") for tourists or those who are new to the area. (another logical thing bart does not do.) this will help, but will not be a cure for those who are just plain oblivious or those who have the "king of the road" syndrome (like those freeway drivers who do not pass and just get out of the way in the fast lane). i wonder if these people who stop walking on the bart escalators also just suddenly stop in the middle of the road as they are driving down the street? sorry, not a great deal of sympathy here; these people are out and about in a crowd of people so should try to be aware of their surroundings since people are expecting them to keep moving and not do something unpredictable.