Many people are unsure about escalator etiquette. Some think people should stand on one side so that others can walk past, while others think no one should ever walk up an escalator. People who believe riders should stand on one side disagree on which side that should be.
Officials in Japan have recently begun promoting a set of rules for escalator use. They say people should not walk and should feel free to stand on either side. Officials say it is not necessary to leave one side of an escalator open. Some people with disabilities may have trouble standing on a particular side. The campaign also urges riders to leave one step between them and the riders in front of them.
Fifty-one railway operators and airport-related companies have joined forces to support the campaign against walking on escalators. During the campaign, the number of accidents has decreased. However, many people are still in the habit of standing on one side.
People in different parts of Japan leave different sides of escalators open. In Tokyo, people stand on the left and let others walk on the right. In Osaka, people stand on the right. In most countries, with Australia being an exception, people stand on the right and walk on the left.
It seems that Britain was the first country to promote the practice of standing on the right. It may have been because people drive on the left, or it may have been because in the early 20th century escalators in the London Underground had a diagonal step-off point that was meant for the right foot first. The idea of standing on the right has spread to other countries, including the United States, Germany, and Taiwan.
People who support the idea of walking on escalators say it increases efficiency, but others are concerned about the potential for injuries. According to Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency, 3,865 people in Tokyo were treated in hospitals for injuries related to escalators from 2011 to 2013. The Japan Elevator Association warns of the dangers of slipping and falling, which can lead to serious injury or even death.
It is unclear whether the Japanese campaign will be effective. A similar campaign was conducted last year, and the Wall Street Journal reported that escalator riders in Japan still stood to one side.