Nudgespotting: Public Stairs, Escalators, and Walkways



Welcome to Nudgespotting! Every other Monday we'll take a quick look at some real-world nudges, with a healthy dose of commentary and behavioral references.

This week we examine a number of nudges in public spaces, focusing on stairs, escalators, and walkways. While all different visually, they have the same broad objective: to establish and make clear a social norm around their use. Let’s take a closer look:


Walk Left, Stand Right

From the Minneapolis Airport, via  Jamie

From the Minneapolis Airport, via Jamie

These nudges hope to strengthen the norm around walking left and standing right on escalators and moving walkways. Signals like these are most needed in public spaces with transient populations (I've been yelled at in D.C. for standing left on a Metro escalator...), where a social norm would either be ambiguous or completely unknown (the second image was taken in an airport, for example).


Stairs = Exercise

Japan, via  Jamie

Japan, via Jamie

The Somerville, MA City Hall, via  Lea Lupkin

The Somerville, MA City Hall, via Lea Lupkin

These nudges hope to draw people’s attention and establish a habit of taking the stairs over using escalators and elevators (though we had some questions about the effectiveness of these types of nudges in a previous post). 


Texting Lanes

China, via  Homer Nieviera

China, via Homer Nieviera

These nudges hope to create a new norm – only walking and texting while on the right-most side of a walkway or stairwell. This could be argued for as a public-safety move, as walking texters can be quite inattentive:

Have you spotted a nudge in the wild? Feel free to send them our way by:

Emailing us at
Tweeting us at @MisbehavingBlog

We might feature you in an upcoming post!