Escalator Etiquette Tips From A New Yorker

I live and play in the greatest city in the world, New York City. If you are not from NYC or have never lived here, then the idea of hustle and bustle you have in your imagination does not match the actuality of the city that never sleeps. I need you to times your preconceived notions of frantic and hurried activity by fifteen. To keep it simple, it’s real. New Yorkers on the go are rarely afforded an opportunity of serenity during their busy days, not even during lunch. A trip to the local deli at 1PM can quickly turn into a madhouse, because of course, everyone else is also getting lunch at that exact same time. A typical day includes speedy walks to the office to be on time for work, swerving past tourists always in the pathway of where you need to go, and trying to navigate on whether or not you can make it across the street in five seconds before the traffic light on the anxious taxi’s parallel to you turn green.

All of these are consistent scenarios for New Yorkers. Because of this, people like me have learned to enjoy the little things in life. Sedentary movement becomes the silver lining in an otherwise strenuous day. I say it proudly, I am one of those people who ride the escalator to enjoy the ride. In those few seconds up those steel inclines, I close my eyes and bask in the fact that I am unbothered, and literally being glided to my destination. Because of this, a lot of New Yorkers in transit, hate me. You see, the right side of the escalator is for people like myself who some deem lazy, and the left side of the escalator is for people who want the comfort of the escalator, while still setting their own pace by walking up the steps.

However, on those occasions when the escalator is cramped and there is a budding group of impatient riders waiting their turn to ride it, I have been yelled at to keep it moving. And I have had to walk up the escalator steps, because no one likes to be yelled at in public. But, I made a decision the last time this happened, that I wouldn’t do so. I mean, for all that I might as well take the stairs. And that defeats the whole purpose. I get on the escalator so I won’t have to do anything, so I won’t have to move, so I can just chill. Even though its a public luxury of sorts, its my decision to ride the escalator unbothered, no matter what my fellow New Yorkers say or think. So in honor of that, I’ve come up with some very simple escalator etiquette rules. I hope you find them useful.

1. Give yourself and the person in front of you on the escalator some space. Don’t get on directly behind them, you are crowding their space and also breathing heavily down their neck. No, but for real, let a step or two pass before you hop on.

2. Keep the left side of the escalator open for those weird people who like to walk up to the top. I’m sure in their minds that walk justified the donut they ate in the morning and they just lost some calories.

3. Don’t yell at people to keep walking up the escalator just because its crowded and you are waiting to get on. We understand you are in a rush. But, if you simply can’t wait, there are always the stairs, directly next to you.

4. Be careful of what you carry on to the escalator. My sister has a great horror story of being pummeled by a homeless lady’s garbage cart while enjoying her ride on the escalator.

Happy riding!


Ashley Akunna is the host and creator of The Grapevine, a talk show that focuses on the voice of millenials. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thegrapevinetv

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