Wednesday, 20 November 2019
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Celebrating 125 years of the escalator

Harald Goessl, Senior Vice President Escalator Operations at thyssenkrupp Elevator. He’s 51 and has been in charge of escalators at thyssenkrupp for four years.

HandwerkStand on the right, walk on the left – that’s accepted escalator etiquette in nearly every major city of the world. How much time does it save really?
Goessl: None at all! I’m afraid that’s a myth I have to debunk. Much as I hate to break it to time-pressed commuters the world over, throughput actually drops when people stand on the right and walk on the left because it takes longer for people to board the escalator. Since fewer people can get on the escalator, an individual – even when walking – can’t go faster. Any time saved by walking is lost by having to queue to get on. It’s faster for everyone if everyone stands. Studies show that escalator capacity increases by approx. 30 percent when nobody walks.

To avoid accidents, you should never walk on a moving installation. True or false?
Goessl: You shouldn’t walk on an escalator because that increases the risk of accidents. That’s true. But on moving walkways or conveyors like those at airports that take you from one terminal to another, it’s fine to walk. And then you’ll really zip along because walking will increase the speed of your ride. A truly efficient mode of transport!

HandwerkIt makes your hair stand on end when you see people …
Goessl: … for example pushing a pram onto an escalator, or boarding an escalator with their shoelaces or a comfort blanket trailing on the ground, or taking a dog onto an escalator without carrying it, or people who can’t hold the handrail because they have both hands full, or who let children poke their shoes into the sides of the steps for fun. Paws, shoes, scarves, or anything that dangles can easily get trapped in the machinery and the result is nearly always a dreadful accident. Often when I see situations like this I can’t stop myself from asking parents or dog-owners to be more careful.

What should you do in an emergency?
Goessl: Every escalator has an emergency stop button and the best advice in critical situations, say when someone falls, is to use it. That can prevent serious injury.

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