China Says We’ve Been Riding Escalators All Wrong

When riding escalators, there’s one simple rule many of us keep in mind: stand right, walk left.

It’s part of a long list of urban etiquette we likely abide by for the longest time. Not only does it show respect for other people, but it tells about how civilized societies work.

However, experts in China are now making it obsolete. They claim that the practice can even be dangerous for public safety, the Wall Street Journal said. But how?

The reason they argue is the uneven wear-and-tear of the escalator caused by movement on one side.

The officials have a point, considering that escalators in China—as in subway stops—are mostly unidirectional. They often only go up according to Zhang Lexiang, general secretary of the China Elevator Association, who compared them with subway entrances in Western countries, which have up-and-down operations.

That means Chinese commuters need to be more careful when riding escalators, and the way to go is to stay still. Host Matt Lauer said it well on the “Today” show (via Refinery29):

“Experts in China say that all that stress on one side of the escalator, caused by people walking up and down at it, increases the chance that it will break down. Plus, a lot of escalators are not meant to be walked on. So bottom line: Get on the escalator, stand wherever you want, don’t move.”

But with China, let’s not forget that wear-and-tear isn’t always to blame. There could be other reasons which, unfortunately, led to a series of the most horrifying accidents city dwellers faced in previous years. At this point, it appears they’ll do whatever it takes to prevent these machines from killing them.

And whether this new recommendation applies to the world’s longest sightseeing escalator, we’re probably yet to find out.

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