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Saitama's new ordinance banning walking on escalators gets off to a standing start


The Saitama prefectural government poster reads, "On the escalator, stay put! It's required. The first ordinance in Japan!! Let it begin from Saitama Prefecture.

It continues at the bottom: "An ordinance to promote safe use of Saitama escalators. To take effect from October 1, 2021."

Five cartoon figures stand alternately on the right and left sides of the escalator: three humans -- a middle-aged man with his left arm in a sling, an expectant mother and a primary schoolgirl with a back pack -- plus the obligatory mascots which in this case are two large, goofy-looking birds.

As J-Cast News reported on Sept 21, Saitama Governor Motohiro Ono tweeted an announcement that day, stating, "Walking on escalators is extremely dangerous, resulting not only in yourself falling, but causing others to fall as well. You are requested to cooperate to enable everybody to use escalators safely."

Wording in the new prefectural ordinance also states that "All those who might utilize escalators are to be notified."

The ordinance had been passed by Saitama's prefectural assembly last February, and an announcement of its passing appeared in the May issue of the prefecture's public newsletter.

A page was also devoted to it on the prefectural website, in which people were advised of proper escalator safety, while warning against the dangers of walking on moving escalators.

Clicking here provides a high-resolution .pdf enabling people to print out seals to be posted near escalators.

Actually, the Japan Elevator Association, which also covers escalators, has posted a number of user safety recommendations that include proscriptions against walking, as well as other forms of misbehavior such as using prams, wearing trousers or other garments with excessively long hemlines, not leaving one hand free for gripping the bannister, wearing high heeled shoes with heels that can easily be jammed between escalator teeth, loitering close to the landing in a way that blocks escalator traffic, and smoking. 

Governor Ono's tweet received a variety of positive responses, such as "We look forward to this!" and "It should be adopted nationwide!" Some others, however, voiced skepticism, with one posting that it was likely to "cause traffic confusion at large stations" and "I wonder if anyone will pay attention at transfer stations during the morning commute."

The responsible official in Saitama's Consumer Livelihood Department responded to J-Cast News' query concerning penalties for violators of the new ordinance and ways to maintain its effectiveness.

"We have not stipulated penalties for violations," the official was quoted as saying. "In our way of thinking, the only way to make the ordinance work is for residents of the prefecture to understand its purpose. Propagating it via the internet repeatedly, and in a courteous manner, will be the only way people will accept it."

When asked about specific cases of falls or other accidents on escalators, all the official could say was "I believe mishaps have happened, including small accidents. But no major escalator accident has occurred in Saitama over the past several years."

"Still, due to moving aboard the escalator can possibly result in people falling down, and when falling they can cause others to fall as well," the official added. "So we ask that people use escalators in accordance with the new ordinance and remain standing in one place."

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I will not comply.

20 ( +26 / -6 )

Good luck enforcing it. I can see it now, written a citation for an escalator violation. Will the miscreant be able to have the citation dismissed if they attend escalator school?

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Oh no, there will be constant public announcements warning of walking on escalators….of which no major accidents have ever occurred.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Big Brother at its finest.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

“Walking on escalators is extremely dangerous, resulting not only in yourself falling, but causing others to fall as well. You are requested to cooperate to enable everybody to use escalators safely."

I just really hate this BS.

I have searched long and far for evidence to back this assertion that walking on escalators is “extremely dangerous” up, but it seems there is none. To be certain there are anecdotes about people walking on escalators falling down on occasion, but the same can be said about people falling down while walking up stairs, or just plain walking down the street. There is no data to support the argument that walking on escalators is any more dangerous than walking anywhere else.

The prefecture’s web pages linked in the article also contain no evidence to support that position, its just a bunch of PR trying to convince everyone this is dangerous by repeatedly saying “this is dangerous” with nothing to back it up.

I think this is basically one of the problems of “governance through poster campaigns” that is endemic to local Japanese governments. They go out of their way to identify, or just make up, problems that they can address solely by putting posters up everywhere, which is a policy response that doesn’t require them to do any real or difficult work. This might seem benign - who really cares if they like putting up posters - but it also biases them against trying to solve real problems which, by their nature, don’t involve poster campaigns as a potential remedy.

It just pisses me off so much….

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Logically a case can be made but it goes against human nature everywhere, so I can see more ‘accidents’ stemming from frustration or rage.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"The Saitama prefectural government poster reads, "On the escalator, stay put! It's required."

Or else? They going to stop the morning commute, too? Ask trains to wait so that elderly Taro, who stands at the top of the escalator all confused, while people pile up behind him, forces the escalator to stop completely?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

The way incredibly minor risks are so often described as "extremely dangerous" on signs and in public announcements really annoys me. It's so overused that I now ignore it altogether and will doubtless end my days by plunging into a ravine or being mauled by a pack of marauding bears.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I suppose it's okay to ban walking when a separate set of stairs are provided for those in a hurry. But in all too many stations, the escalator is the only means of getting to or from the platform. If people who stand stick to the left side, and leave the right side open as a passing lane, it should be safe enough.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@RainyDay. Understood. Hardheaded selfish containment of thoughts is right here under your nose when you post.

Those bureaucrats making the posts are selfish, clueless and closed minded as you see here.

Will never change unless people complain about poster costs

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If you cannot walk up an escalator without falling you have bigger problems than escalator safety.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

This can be enforced through technological improvements in escalator design.

Install a barrier on each step that moves along with each rider, effectively creating an individual cubicle for each rider, rendering the act of walking impossible.

It is the duty of all citizens to look out for the safety of others, and respect, honor and obey all laws and regulations.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

So we're not allowed to walk on escalators in Saitama?

In that case, we'll have to run!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Soon, they’ll ban walking on stairs

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I have never been to a country with slower escalators than those in Japan.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Calls to mind *@MrKipling 8:38pm and @zichi 8:44pm *one of last great freedoms is to gradually climb & enjoy ‘time off’ on the Central–Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System in Hong Kong. It’s the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, covering over 800 m (2,600 ft) in distance and traverses an elevation of over 135 m (443 ft) from bottom to top. Plus, there are some of the greatest local eateries & expat pubs at different elevations.

*- @zichi 8:44pm: responding to [@MrKipling 8:38pm: “I have never been to a country with slower escalators than those in Japan.]- “Why do you need to be in so much of a hurry? Learn mindfulness and relax. Enjoy the slow moments. Less stress at the end of the day.” -*

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'm not in a hurry, just an observation that the ones in Japan move at about a third the speed of those in the London underground. Mind you, the London ones are in repair half the time so maybe a little slower is better?

Then a separate issue is the general walking speed in Japan.... it kills me just of slowly the average Japanese person shuffles along.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Im telling ya enough with the natty state(government regarded as overprotective or as interfering unduly with personal choice.) crap.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When someone is pushed off the platform by sheer numbers waiting to stand up the escalators at Omiya Station, can the victim's family sue Governor Ono?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thank God we don't have that in Fukuoka.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Ask an escalator engineer and they will recommend against walking while on it.

But good luck implementing it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It's faster for everyone if both sides of the esacalator are fully utilized

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

People who are always in a hurry are actually the slowpokes

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

They've tried implementing this at the escalators near my office.

Several people have got warnings from our HR department for walking on escalators (there are no stairs available as an option) on the way in to work. Which means some people have so little to do in their life that they narc on co-workers for the horrible crime of walking on an escalator.

It is silly, honestly. The system of "stand on this side, walk on this side" has worked for years. I don't see the merit in changing it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is silly, honestly. The system of "stand on this side, walk on this side" has worked for years. I don't see the merit in changing it.

I'd like to see the official justification also

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In the USA, this would be turned into a question of civil rights, just like whether to wear a mask or not.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Technically you're not supposed to walk on moving sidewalks either but everyone still does it. Good luck enforcing it!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good luck enforcing it.

I'm quite interested to know how much money this event cost... And more visual noise

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have never seen anyone fall walking on an escalator. Or make someone else fall for that matter. How about pulling over loud motorcycles and fining them? That I would support.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is being done to protect old people who've got nothing to do except complain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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