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2009-02-02 ó 9:39 p.m.

An engineering question: Why does moving=stopping?

I travel a lot, mostly with my job, and one of the things I canít help but notice are the people. Iíve written before about how some people will go out of their way looking for an overhead bin to put a tiny bag in, how others will put their coats in the overhead bins moments after being told to hold them until everyone has placed their luggage there, etc. With all those distinct centers of the Universe in one place, itís a wonder that the airplane has enough structural integrity to hold itself together.

All that notwithstanding, however, there is another interesting land-based dichotomy of travel that I have noticed in my globetrotting of the last few years, and it has to do with moving walkways. Denver International Airport, where I spend a majority of my time since itís my home airport, has moving walkways in all three of its concourses. They stretch out on the main level of the concourses in about 4-gate spans, and move at roughly a brisk walking speed, so that if youíre walking at a reasonable pace, it speeds you up to jogging pace. Rock on!

In the A and C concourses there are 2 of these per wing from the train line, separated by a small shopping/food area. The B concourse, which is much larger, has 4 walkways per wing. As I said, when you get on these things and walk, you can really get where youíre going! Sadly enough, they donít speed things up. They slow things down. Why? How can such a marvel of efficiency inhibit progress? Yes, it is a quandary.

For some reason as soon as most peopleís little footies touch these new fangled ďmovingĒ walkways, something in the brain short circuits, and all desire for forward progress is halted. They just stop. ďOh, itís moving!Ē they seem to say, and the feet donít work anymore. Funny enough, if this thing were supplied with chairs, they would likely sit down and ride for the 200 feet or so until by the sheer act of raw courage and will they were forced to rip themselves heroically back onto their feet just as the automated voice droned ďCaution! Moving walkway is nearing its end. Please watch your step.Ē

These are not elderly people either Ė they usually get the wheelchair or buggy rides. Some are clearly athletic. Still, they are perfectly content to stop walking if they donít have to. Iím going to be sitting on my ass for the next whatever number of hours, so Iím fine to walk. But these people will clog up the whole goddamn walkway, mooing, then have the audacity to look annoyed when I say excuse me and they have to side step 6 inches to let me pass. Hey, excuse me, Jabba. Do you need me to bring your butler?

Now I realize that not everyone is in a hurry, most time Iím not either, I just like to get where Iím going, I suppose. Woe to the person who is in a rush to get anywhere! Itís more the question of why everyone is stopping. Is it a remnant of infancy holding on that if weíre carried then we quit moving? Is it preparation for the flight? Is it inherent laziness? Are we all just along for the ride?

This same phenomenon happens with escalators too. Down or up, if itís moving people stop. Why is this? I realize that it takes more energy to move yourself up and down stairs then on flat surfaces, so I can sort of see it there, but stillÖ

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Want to comment? Speak up! 3 Quips to Date

Dan - 2009-02-03 13:25:26
This kind of crap agitates the piss out of me, too. They need to put passing lanes on those things...not that most people know how to use a passing lane anyway. I do, however, like to pick a seat next to the end of the walkway when I am waiting for my flight and watch people stumble off of those things. Now THAT'S good fun!
stepfordtart - 2009-02-03 18:56:04
I like to pretend to skate on those things, thats fun (and it fucks my children RIGHT off!). s x
Bill - 2009-02-04 14:55:06
You would love Japan. Over there they have many moving walkways and escalators but they have rules that people follow. If you want to stand and not walk, you simply move over to the right and let people on the left fly by as they please. No problems. I've seen it in action and it works well.

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