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Urban Etiquette: Say No To Esca-Lefters (Stand Right, Walk Left)

by Borderstan.com January 3, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,129 4 Comments


Walk when you’re on the left! (ep_jhu in the Borderstan Flickr pool)

From Mike Kohn. Got an urban etiquette ‘wrong’ that needs to be righted? Find Mike on Twitter @mike_kohn or drop him a line at [email protected].

I swear, sometimes it’s the simplest things out there that create the biggest problems. Is it really that hard to ride an escalator? The concept is easy enough — you stand and ride or you walk up the moving staircase until you get off. And yet, how many times have I walked up or down an escalator to find someone blocking my path, like an obnoxious Parcheesi opponent?

Just last week as I was descending into the Dupont Circle metro, I had to jump to the side to avoid barreling into someone who decided that it would be a good idea to stop directly at the bottom of the escalator. Apparently we could use a little clueing in.

  • Stand to the right, walk on the left. This is posted everywhere, so you have absolutely no excuse not to do it. I’m a walker, so I’ll be racing by you on the left. When you stand in the middle of the escalator or, even worse, block the left lane, you irritate everyone.
  • In a similar vein, if you have bulky items or just a lot of them, keep them close. Yeah, I’m sure there’s something about security and watching your stuff, but really, just don’t block my way up the side.
  • When you finish your chariot ride up or down, move out of the way. There are people behind you and believe it or not, they have nowhere to go if you block their way off of the escalator.

This is DC, people. We move fast and we get things done. We don’t have time to wait for people to figure out how to use something as easy as an escalator.

Recently, Metro coined a new phrase: “escalefter.” Definition: a person who stands on the left side of the escalator when he should be standing on the right.” I think it’s time we respect those signs, don’t you think?

  • J

    “Stand to the right, walk on the left. This is posted everywhere, so you have absolutely no excuse not to do it. I’m a walker, so I’ll be racing by you on the left.”

    It’s actually not posted anywhere. Other blogs have had discussions about this, and, if I recall correctly, WMATA may have recalled its endorsement for liability purposes. But anyhow, while most-to-all locals certainly believe it in and follow it, it is not posted.

  • M

    I agree with J – those signs were removed. I think many of the folks standing on the left are tourist or business travelers not familar with this rule.

  • Anon20009

    Geez – calm down. Yes it can be annoying, but it’s not life-threatening. Standard DC Type-A attitude – a lot of angst over such a little thing.

  • regardless of whether or not stand right is obeyed/required, stopping at the top (or bottom) of an escalator is just plain stupid, rude, and dangerous…yet people do it all the time. being the class act that i am, i usually square up and bowl thru. watch it peeps! 😉


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