Escalator etiquette: The dos and don'ts

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LONDON. July 29. KAZINFORM Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, has said he always walks on escalators. Good exercise, yes, but some cities discourage it. And there's one thing obstructing walkers - people who stand.

There are walkers and there are standers, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a walker.

In announcing a plan to make New York's buildings more stair-friendly, the mayor said he always walks on escalators.

Most escalator walking happens at underground stations - people don't tend to be in such a hurry in a shopping centre, for instance.

But Bloomberg is still in a minority of escalator users around the world. In London, about 25% of people on the Tube walk on the escalators and in Shanghai only about 3%, according to a study, Kazinform refers to BBC.

And in some countries, walking on escalators is discouraged. On the Toronto subway system, signs that encouraged people to walk on the left were removed at the recommendation of safety experts.

A ban was also considered for Tokyo's transport system but never enforced. And in the UK, people of a certain age will remember the chilling public information films of the 1970s that featured a pair of children's blue wellington boots getting sucked into the machinery. "Stand still and don't walk down," it urged.

Either that message never got through or it was soon forgotten, because any such caution has melted away in the UK. There are 426 escalators on the London Underground and there's a signposted system of standing to the right and walking to the left.

Research in 2011 by the University of Greenwich found that 75% of people at Paddington Tube station stood and the left-right rule was observed by nearly 90% of people.

But the custom varies depending where you are. The same team of researchers, led by Edwin Galea, earlier found that in Shanghai, only 2.4% walked and there was no preferred side to walk on.

Usually there is a walking lane on busy subway escalators, says Galea, and it's not clear if the Shanghai free-for-all reflected a cultural phenomenon or was simply people getting to grips with what was a new station and escalator.

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