Mark Frauenfelder at 12:32 pm Wed, Aug 6, 2008
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This escalator at a Tokyo convention suddenly went in reverse, injuring about 20 people, according to Gizmodo.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
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Simplifiers and Optimizers, by Dilbert creator Scott Adams
Once when I was a kid, I saw a woman at the library fall on the escalator. The escalator was still moving (up, I think) but she couldn’t get up. There were about a dozen people at the top and the bottom, all trying to help her.
No one (except me, in my crowning moment of awesome) thought to hit the emergency stop button. When things go wrong, people often just don’t try to do anything, because they think someone else will or because they’re panicking — especially if there are a lot of other people around.
I think the most interesting thing about that video was the number of people who didn’t move out of the way, and ended up making things worse.
if people didnt get on and treat it like a friggin ride at the carnival it would be much smoother, ” yay we got on the escalator get a seat everyone”
how many times have we all stood behind a couple that really would have benefitted from walking up a flight of stairs and have them look behind them at the 5 people walking up towards them, they they just turn back around and stare straight ahead.
i have got to the stage where i point out the thing wont tip sideways if they stand on the same side
i dunno where im going with this, it just kills me slowly every time it happens.
just reading this has got me ranting i need a drink :/
lol # 37
“Listen, not a year goes by, not a year, that I don’t hear about some escalator accident involving some bastard kid which could have easily been avoided had some parent – I don’t care which one – but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator.” – Brody, Mallrats.
Just another thing to worry about. Note to self…
@23: Amen to that. I walked up the escalator at Dupont Circle once and thought it would never end.
The motors just couldn’t handle that many people. Escalator motors are at the top and ‘pull’ the people up. When you overload the motors will stop and the brakes are supposed to hold. supposed to….
Lousy brakes, I’d say. Manufacturers test for this with something like 125% of the escalators capacity. Leave it to the investigators to go prancing around on it afterwards.
Worst possible scenario: After the investigators arrive, they go up on the escalator to see what happened. Brakes totally give out and they all slide to the bottom like a roller coaster.
“I like an escalator, because an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You’ll never see an ‘Escalator Out of Order’ sign, only ‘Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.’” — Mitch Hedberg
Move to London- you’ll love it.
There are red emergency stop switches at the top and bottom of each escalator, something for everyone to keep in mind but also be aware that people are more likely to be injured if the escalator stops suddenly so I’d think twice before hitting one of the buttons.
A few years ago something similar happened to me. The escalator just stopped. It was a terrifying experience. I was trapped for over 4 hours before I was finally rescued.
Geez, haven’t these people ever walked up a down escalator before?
@18: escalators in the USA go quite slowly, probably because of lawyers.
In Europe they go much faster. According to Wikipedia, the longest escalator in Europe is 126m and takes “almost three minutes”, but the longest in the USA is 70m and takes 2m45. On public transport, some people stand to one side and others walk up the other side, which makes it much quicker than the equivalent number of stairs.
I once saw a woman trip and fall down the stairs of ans escalator in a department store. She ended up at the bottom, doing somersaults, until someone ran to hit the emergency off button. One of the weirdest and scariest things I have ever seen.
@9: EVERY NOW AND THEN I GET A LITTLE BIT TIRED OF LISTENING TO THE SOUND OF MY TEARS
I had almost the same thing happen to me at the premiere for the first Harry Potter movie: the down escalator at the theatre’s exit was overloaded, and started going much faster than normal.
Fortunately, as in this instance we were facing forward, it was much easier for the people to disperse, and there were no injuries.
Several Western Lowland Gorillas spotted leaving the scene are currently sought for questioning.
Thirded on the DC escalators. We proudly boast the longest escalator in the western hemisphere, at the Wheaton metro stop (yeah, it’s on MD, but still), AND the third longest, Rossyln (in VA – noticing a trend here?). I use the one at Dupont everyday, and while I have no problem walking down in the morning, you’ll rarely catch me walking back up that evening.
#20 said escalators are nice for the elderly.
I disagree…. Many people, most typically elderly have a tendency to get at the top, wait a second to catch their breath, stare into void for about a minute or so, discuss wether or not they’re on the right floor, before deciding to walk on.
Being the patient, understanding soul, that I am, I usually explain to them that the wise action here is to get (the $%*&^$%) out of the (*&^#$#*&$) way. The alternative of explaining in a milder tone is watching throngs of elderly toppling like dominoes. Not a pretty sight, I can tell you. Especially if you wait for a sec to catch your breath, stare in disinterest for about a minute or so, discuss wether the red button is indeed the emergency break, before shouting: “I told you so”.
Even more puzzling is how some people manage to blame the escalator. Look folks, you’re dawdling, it’s not the escalator that needs to slow down once you’re at the top. I frequently wonder how humanity manages to evade instant extinction anyway. But put in the capricious hands of escalators world wide our collective fate surely hangs by a thread. Back with stairs, I say!
#27 Once upon a time I was falling in love, but now I’m only falling apart.
I have never seen so many people involved with an escalator in my entire life. What, in Japan there are no stairs?
I can’t understand escalators anyway. None are so long that you can’t walk the distance easily enough. People are so damned lazy.
Is that Comiket?
Escalators are very handy for disabled people and the elderly. My mother, for example, is sick from the chemotherapy used to treat her cancer. She’s still strong enough to walk around a department store long enough to find what she wants, but going up or down stairs would exhaust her. An escalator would allow her to change floors without wearing herself out. Of course, an elevator does the same thing without excluding people in wheelchairs, so I guess I don’t get escalators either.
I would have thought that in Japan since you drive on the left, you would go up on the left.
all in all, quite a weird thing to think that a reversed escalator would mess up things so bad.
Scary underpants! Moving staircase make flipturn for dangerous bottom, bigeye tuna!
The severity of the situation seems to have been mainly due to the number of people on the escalator at the time, and the large group of people queuing for it at the bottom, making it so that, when the direction reversed, those on the escalator had no way to get off, and thus ended up barrelling into those waiting, and causing the effect seen. Most of the people commenting about it on YouTube don’t seem to understand this.
wow! imagine what a nightmare it would be if an elevator did this!
Hmm, reported by Gizmodo, you say? Did they get their hands on an “Escalator-Go-Backwards” device?
Every escalator I’ve seen has a kill-switch on both ends.
I hear Khan screaming “Where’s the manual override?”
@#20, Ok, valid, but how many of these nutballs were too sick to walk up a flight of stairs? I’d rather just elevators were available anyway. These lazy bums would wait like a mob forever for the doors to open. Then it would be like the Marx bros. stateroom scene.
I wanna see that on YouTube.
The article on Mainichi said that there were three people on each step, which both caused the failure and made it impossible for the riders to steady themselves.
Most of the people commenting about it on YouTube don’t seem to understand this.
@18: clearly you’ve never been in a DC Metro station.
Did it actually reverse or did the motor give out from the weight on it?
@27 and 34:
you guys complete me. *sniffle*
haha, I can imagine some kids in a backroom somewhere watching cameras and hitting the “escalator-in-reverse” button… that’d be a pretty awesome prank
#4 you win ONE internet!!
“”Most of the people commenting about it on YouTube don’t seem to understand this”"
whew!! good times…good times.
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