Have We Been Riding Escalators Wrong Our Whole Lives?

Photo: Getty Images.
Stand right, walk left. To those of us who grew up in cities, this is no-brainer escalator etiquette. And we'll yell at — I mean, gently nudge and say "excuse me" to — tourists who don't follow it.

We may have been doing it all wrong. This morning on the Today show, Matt Lauer announced: "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."

This tidbit apparently came from a Wall Street Journal article that cited Chinese experts who are concerned about uneven wear-and-tear on escalators. Zhang Lexiang, general secretary of the China Elevator Association (which also covers escalators and moving walkways), noted that although subway entrances in Western countries often have multiple escalators that can alternate between up and down duty, in Chinese subway stops there is generally only one — that goes up.

While reconsidering "stand right, walk left" might make sense in China, we'll stick to what we grew up with so we don't get the side-eye from fellow grumpy commuters. "That is not gonna happen. Fugetaboutit," Meredith Vieira said to Lauer. What she said.

Watch the Today segment in the video below.
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