Pedestrian rage

It’s not just about people who stand on the right hand side of escalators. There seem to be lots of pedestrians who, in high-traffic areas, manage to block things up and slow people down. Some — and it’s not just oldsters and tourists — will walk slowly in the middle of a path that fits two. Some groups of people will walk slowly in parallel, contracting when others pass in the opposite direction, but filling the space instantly afterwards, so nobody else can pass.

I know, I know, I should allow more time to get where I’m going. But inevitably sometimes I’m in a hurry — as seen by Jen last night. While no footpaths have formal slow and fast lanes, I for one would appreciate if those walking slowly kept to one side to let the speedsters through.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “Pedestrian rage”

My two pet hates about escalators – people who congregate at the top or bottom after they disembark, thus clogging up the exiting possibilities for those behind them and people who let their young children use them as a free ride. Many is the time when I have had kittens watching kids with their little fingers dangerously close to the innards of the escalator whilst their lazy parents sit by sipping coffee totally oblivious to the danger their children may end up in. Unfortunately I have seen a couple of kiddies take tumbles on them too.

If that gets you hot under the collar, try this on for size – people who walk up to the doors of a train as it pulls up to the station and then stand in the middle waiting for the people on the train to get off around them. Given a group of five such twits on the platform, getting off the train becomes nearly impossible, blocking everyone including them.

Then there are the people who use a busy shared path with a 60kph speed limit, and walk randomly from side to side as though the bicycles they’re sharing with don’t exist. These groups often also block the pedestrians behind them, but it’s the “step in front of a bicycle” bit that causes me the greatest fear. I ride this twice every working day and it’s a “nominal 60kph, actual 10kph” zone because of that.

The Canary Wharf escalator looks very cool – almost as though someone has thought about things. I’m assuming that they look at the direction of peak flow and the middle one goes that way.

One question I have is why escalators are always so narrow – is there some technical reason that stops them being made with treads 2m wide?

I don’t get why the Canary Wharf escalators are so amazing. We have that at a lot of the underground stations here in Melbourne – 2 up, 1 down in the mornings, 2 down, 1 up in the evenings.

As for skinny escalators, is it just me or are the new ones at Spencer St skinnier than other stations?

I always stand on the right hand side of the escalator – i prefer to hold the handrail with my stronger arm. There’s no law against it – in fact, in the UK, if you don’t stand on the right going down to the “Tube” you’ll get knocked down in the rush.

Lighten up, or else design an escalator with overtaking lanes, and multiple speed lanes for those so time-challenged.

Ditto Liz.

Paul, of course the Tube is irrelevant to Melbourne’s underground stations, where standing on the left is the convention. If you have a medical reason for standing on the right then that’s fair enough, but I assume you wouldn’t do it to deliberately irritate people.

The escalator with overtaking lanes is what we have – wide-enough for two people.

We call them ‘obstructors’ or ‘obstructionists’ here in Japan. Groups like to walk 4, 5 abreast blocking all. Now, this is also a society where people ride bicycles on footpaths – you imagine the possible carnage with the combination of obstructionists and bicycle riders. Not a pretty sight.

People also make their own rules for side of the foodpath walking as well. Rather than just stick to the same side as driving (Japan is the left, like Aus) people commit themselves to the left or right side depending on their own whim. I’m still a ‘walk on the left’ person, and sometimes have showdowns with people who approach me and favor the right. Also not a pretty sight.

Daniel, you will relate to this, corner of Swanston and Collins Street East side. The number of people who just cross against the lights, nearly get hit by cars and then complain when you walk into them when the lights change and you can walk across the road. That would have to be one of the worst places to cross. Also did I see you in Centreway Arcade Monday?

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