So, I see McLaren’s gotten all ranty about escalators, and I’m pretty much with him on this, I guess, barring any physical limitations that require you to stand on the escalator. Shopping malls, movie theaters, airports (sometimes)–yeah, just use your legs, dammit.
The subway’s different, though. I ride. Well, sometimes. If the escalator is short, about 20 to 30 feet, I walk it–up or down. If it’s long or it’s at a really steep angle, I ride. I stand aside so folks can pass, of course, but I ride.
And we do have some long, steep escalators. At 53rd St. and Lexington Ave., underneath Jen’s building, the escalator descends 80 feet vertically, at a fairly steep pitch. (80 is the height. I don’t know the hypotenuse, but I’m sure it’s easily 100 feet or more.) On such a long, steep escalator, I’m likelier to walk up than I am down. I have a slight fear of heights, so if I’m riding it down, I look straight ahead to avoid the vertigo. Walking down requires looking down, and that makes me dizzy. You don’t want to be immediately in front of a 240-pound man who gets dizzy on a long, steep escalator.
If I’m going up, the vertigo doesn’t kick in, so it’s easy for me to walk.
Also, in the subway, it’s not just a matter of walking–it’s a matter of walking at everyone else’s pace, which comes in three speeds: fast, faster, and get the goddamn hell outta my way. If you can’t or won’t keep up, it really is better for everyone if you just stand there.
I’ve seen folks sprinting up or down escalators. If you’re just walking, you really do need to step right to let them pass. That’s if you can. If every step is occupied, then suddenly you either sprint yourself or keep your normal pace and listen to them cursing you out behind you.
So, yeah. When I’m on an escalator that carrying me eight stories down into the earth, I don’t want to get shoved by someone who thinks I’m not walking fast enough. I stand.