March 23rd, 2019| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


You’ve been on those before. Escalators. Going up. Going down. Especially those long ones at airports and subways that take you up or down multiple levels.

And you, no doubt, being the respectable citizen that you are, abide by the unwritten rule that faster walkers are to be allowed the left side, and so you, being in no hurry, endowed with patience and respect, move to the right and stick to your place. (In the United States, that is. Reversed in other parts of the world, sometimes depending on how their road traffic goes.) Kinda like having two lanes on an escalator—a walking, fast lane and a standing, slow one.

But is that really a rule? Is it efficient?

The London Tube did a trial to answer this question. They knew that on long escalator up rides, few, if any, chose to run up the steep climb. All the rest, the vast majority (about 75% as discovered by a study), just stood in the slow lane of the escalator. Should a lane be kept reserved for a small population of impatient and rushed people?

So the experiment was conducted at Holborn station. One escalator was marked standing only, i.e., no running, walking, scampering, etc. And guess what? They found an increase of 28% more people per minute were carried by the standing-only people movers.

(Of course, this applies only when there is heavy traffic. If you’re alone or there’s plenty of room, running up is certainly a faster means of getting to your destination.)

Now while all this resembles a study in fluid dynamics, the psychology of humans is important, too. Changing habits at that one experimental escalator wasn’t easy. It involved teams of staff standing at the bottom of the escalators with megaphones, asking commuters, as cheerfully as possible, if they would mind standing on both sides. It meant plain-clothes “plants” being sent up the escalators to block the way for others on the fast lane and create a new sort of social pressure. It even meant asking amenable couples to hold hands across the escalator, the better to thwart those who wished to blaze their way through the line.

And, despite all these attempts at persuasion, and despite the apparent success of the operation, the Tube folks got a lot of complaints, presumably from the fast lane habitués, who were miffed at not being able to slalom, sprint, and streak through the slow lane snails.

Nonetheless, it seems that escalator throughput is improved if everyone stands still.

In other words, take it easy—it helps everyone.

“Cease striving and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

Because …

God is for us refuge and strength,
Help in troubles, He is present abundantly.
Psalm 46:1

He’s in control over natural catastrophes:

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Psalm 46:2–3

He’s in control over violent upheavals (notice the repeat of “roar” and “slip”):

The nations uproared, the kingdoms slipped;
He offers His voice, the earth melted.
Psalm 46:6

Instead … (and there’s “slip” again!):

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God in the midst of her—she will not slip;
God will help her when morning dawns.
Psalm 46:5

We can “cease our striving” because …

The LORD of the heavenly armies is with us;
The God of Jacob is for us a stronghold!
Psalm 46: 7, 11

Quit the fast lane!

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