Subway escalators are especially rage-inducing because a slow person can prevent you from catching your train, potentially stranding you on the platform for an extra 15 or 20 minutes.
Gawker's Hamilton Nolan encapsulated this vexation in a post in May titled "Please, Walk Down the Escalator":
Let's just say for argument's sake that you enter a New York City subway station and step onto an escalator that's headed down towards the train tracks. At that moment, you must choose one of two clear courses of action: walk down the escalator, or stand still. Put more precisely, you can either walk down the escalator, or you deserve to be pushed down the escalator.I understand his position, but people can go too far. Back in San Francisco, escalator rage was taken to a horrifying conclusion when a teen shot and killed someone at the Metreon for blocking the way.
Anyway, so I'm happy to see that the F train station at Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street attempts to mitigate the problem.
This is a fairly deep station (though not the deepest — that distinction goes to the 191st Street station in Washington Heights) and has a total of 10 escalators and six staircases.
At the entry point to each escalator, there are a pair of signs.
I have to admit, I don't fully understand the idea here. You would think the signs would say "walk" (on the left) and "stand" (on the right). But I think the point is the same: As the crowd makes its way up or down the series of escalators, walkers should "enter" on the left and keep walking. They shouldn't go to the right because that's where the standers are. So everybody's happy?
I think that's the point, but I can't really say for sure.
Okay, so maybe this isn't a good solution to escalator rage. But at least it seems like somebody is trying.
UPDATE: So now I'm wondering if these signs have NOTHING to do with managing foot traffic and are actually supposed to light up to indicate when the escalator is running or not?
Someone speculates about their purpose on this Flickr page.
But does that make any sense either? If an escalator isn't running, you can still walk up it. And if it's getting fixed, it's usually cordoned off — no need for a "do not enter" sign.
The mystery continues.