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Friday, December 07, 2007

Stairway to?

I'm sick and tired of stairs and the people who use them at a speed I find inappropriate.

Hopefully in the future, there will be no stairs and we can all use vacuum tube networks to arrive at various destinations, or at least at various altitudes in the same location. Hopefully in the less-distant future, all stairs will be escalators. Preferably weight-sensored escalators so the energy-whiners can be placated by the fact that they only turn on and use power when someone's actually on them.

Of course, before that happens, we would need people to stop and remember WHY we have escalators. In case you're one of those nitwits who forgot, we have them so that we don't have to climb stairs. Sometimes I wonder if it's just the fact that they look like stairs that triggers these people to automatically mandate, "I see stairs - I must climb them," even if the stairs themselves are already moving.

I can succumb to the age-old excuse of being "in a hurry". Of course, I plan my travel time accordingly so I won't have to be in a hurry. I'm one of those weird people who tries to keep to a schedule and understands how long it can take to travel somewhere. I expect delays and leave home accordingly, as opposed to some people I know who recall one miraculously-quick travel instance and rationalize that every trip will be that short. They're the ones perpetually late to everything. I can more willingly accept the excuse of "immediate rushes", like when the train is pulling into the station and it will be leaving shortly so moving up the already-moving stairs is an attempt to catch the train. Fine. But when there are NO trains at the station, the act is absolutely ridiculous. There's nowhere to go, buddy!

A similar situation would be those asshole drivers who cut you off and weave haphazardly just to gain an extra carlength or two while the light is red. So you get to swear a constant flow of obscenities at the car that almost got you killed, just to be 20 feet closer to a RED LIGHT.

There are times when I'll scrunch myself to one side and let a rusher pass by. This is usually a factor of my mood at the time, the environmental conditions, and the situation of the escalator. For example, in my office building at room temperature on an escalator leading to places of meetings and businesses - I will let someone pass by if I notice them rushing up. When it's 18 degrees and you're shoving people on your way to an empty train station platform - you can go to hell, because I'm not budging.

Manual stairs are just as annoying at times. And the only way I can find to correct the current situation is to have everyone approach the stairs in the order of speed they plan on being able to ascend/descend them. Most stairs where I find bottlenecking only allow for one person moving at a time, though two can theoretically fit in the space. This is more apt for one person ascending to pass one person descending. Trying to pass in the same direction is dangerous at best and potentially-deadly at worst.

I am a slow person when it comes to stairs (did you notice my hatred for them yet) - but I know my place and I take proper measures. I hold back when waiting in a group to use the stairs. I can identify who is obviously faster than me or looks hurried and should obviously be traversing the staircase before me, lest I clog up the works. And yet there are still those exceptions that sneak by - usually an older woman who seems rather spry rushing her way to the turnstile, and yet hobbling awkwardly and sluggishly down each step, one-by-one, like she were a stunt double for the "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up" lady.

Is she just old enough to stop caring about what other people think or anyone other than herself and where she's going? If she had one iota of guilt about the 8-person traffic jam she's causing, wouldn't you think she'd do everything in her power to stop, scrunch and let everyone else pass? Nay - she hobbles along, hip jutting into potential passing space. She is essentially the ambulatory version of an "elderly driver" sterotype.

If we can't replace all the staircases with escalators soon, then my other idea is to widen to allow for AT LEAST two full lanes of person traffic (and yes, I'm smart enough to account for the average American being wider today than back in the 50's when most of these current stairways were built) - and designate lanes like highways (fastest lane closer to the middle, slowest by the shoulder/handrail). Faster people would know to take the inside track, and slower people would be over on the right - trying to attain a "passing lane" possibility with wider lanes to account for jutting hips and larger people.

At least those are MY ideas.

Party-stopper question: What do you think can be done to alleviate the staircase traffic situation in our downtown areas?

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