How to fit in when riding an escalator in London

In order for all 8 million of us in London to live together in harmony there are some basic ‘social rules’ that (most) Londoners (and foreigners who think they are Londoners like moi) tend to follow. And, with tourist season upon us, I feel the need to point a few such rules so those of you wandering around in your socks and sandals with tour books will be able to fit in (as best as possible).

One such ‘social rule’ we will call the ‘stand on the right rule’. The stand on the right rule (herein referred to as SOTR) seems to have started as a method to move the 4 million daily tube riders up and out of the tube via escalators as quickly as possible. It works so well that most Londoners tent to adopt the SOTR strategy on any escalator they are on…I am hoping to implement the SOTR rule around the globe as it is brilliant and allows impatient people like me to move around the city at breakneck speed for no particular reason.

The SOTR rule is fairly simple, if you are riding an escalator you basically have two options, stand and let it escalate you or, climb the stairs. The SOTR refers to the former category, if you choose to stand and let the escalator escalate, then park yourself to the right of the elevator…when I say park I mean shove your body, arms, bags, luggage, children, grandmother as far to the right as you can get. This allows the impatient, late, athletic, more important people, to walk up the stairs on the left so they can reach the top a full 30 to 45 precious seconds before you.

When it works (and it does in London), its brilliant, people who want to get somewhere fast can, and those who aren’t in a rush or don’t need the exercise can happily ride their lazy selves to the top. If you are visiting the city and do not follow the SOTR rule, expect people to stomp up behind you, huff loudly, breathe down your neck or just impatiently grunt EXCUSE ME at which point you should get to the right of the escalator as fast as you possibly can.

Thankfully there are signs in the tube to remind you of the SOTR rule as I am sure even if you have made it all the way to the bottom of this blog without falling asleep there is no guarantee that you will remember SOTR when you are fumbling with your camera, tour book, tube map and tube ticket. I do hope though, that once you understand and see SOTR in action, you will try to implement it in a city near you. Together we can make the escalator riding more enjoyable for everyone.

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3 Responses to How to fit in when riding an escalator in London

  1. kirstyliz says:

    Ya we sooo have SOTR in the t-dot, yo…. Buuuuut I don’t know if it counts when only 45% of people follow the SOTR rule. I think the SIGNS are the key so that the uneducated masses can LEARN of wonderousness of SOTR. I may, in fact, make myself up a SOTR sign right now, run off a few thousand at Kinkos and go post them at TTC stations. I’ll let you know how it goes. If it works you and I alone will have brought SOTR successfully to Toronto. Today? SOTR. Tomorrow? WORLD DOMINATION! Mwa ha ha ha.

  2. Pingback: Escalator etiquette at Tom Steel

  3. Peter says:

    I don’t think this will fly in NZ where they walk all over the place even in running races as I found out last week

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