There are rules in a civilised society and this is one of the big ones: when moving up or down an escalator, standers keep to the left, walkers go right (though this is sometimes reversed in other countries). It's a simple rule to follow and one that, if broken, earns almost instant tuts from your fellow escalator travellers.
But experts claim that those who walk up or down escalators are ruining the system for everyone else. It's apparently more efficient and safe if people stand two abreast on escalators and stand still.
According to the Guardian, a three week trial at Holborn Tube Station (a transfer station used by 56 million people per year) which had customers standing on both sides of an escalator saw escalator congestion lessen by about 30%. One escalator that normally transported 12,745 people between 8:30 and 9:30am was able to move 16,220 because of the new standing rules.
This is likely because there's less of a bottleneck at the entry to the escalator, meaning more people are able to board more quickly, the trial revealed.
Consultants at Capgemini Consulting in London conducted a similar trial utilising computer models and discovered that walking up the escalator took 26 seconds compared with standing, which took 40 seconds. However, the overall time people dealt with an escalator, including the time spent waiting to board the escalator, dropped sharply when everyone stood.
In the trial, when 40 percent of the people walked, the average time for standers was 138 seconds and 46 seconds for walkers. When everyone stood, the average time fell to 59 seconds. Researchers also found the length of the line to reach and step onto an escalator dropped to 24 people from 73.
Escalator company Otis claims people should not walk up or down escalators as a matter of safety, The New York Times reported.
"Our recommendation is for escalator passengers to step on, hold on to the rail and stay alert," the company wrote in a statement.
So next time you dare to stand on the right hand side of the escalator and someone asks you to move, just show them this article.