The MTR have started painting feet on the escalators to show passengers where to stand (yes, really), and it seems that they are now encouraging people to stand still rather than walking up or down in that reckless way favoured by some:
Smiley®World Character dressed as Penguin to Promote Escalator Safety
MTR cares about your every journey. To enhance awareness of escalator safety, the Smiley®World character is back as a MTR ambassador with a new look to remind passengers how to ride the escalator safely to ensure a smooth and pleasant journey.
This time, the Smiley®World character appears as a penguin to encourage passengers to "Hold the handrail and stand still". Passengers are also reminded to "Stand still and keep away from the edge" when riding the escalator. Through this Escalator Safety Campaign, MTR hopes that the smiley penguin will not only put a smile on your face, but also remind passengers how to ride escalators safely.
Smiley®World? Penguin? What’s going on? There has been a flurry of correspondence in the SCMP:
Pointless plea on escalators
As we go up and down MTR escalators, the public address system dins in our ears that we should, "Please hold the handrail."
Holding the handrail is what people instinctively do if they are in danger of losing their balance; I have never seen or heard of accidents occurring because they are not held. Therefore, there is no need to constantly remind us to do so.
An exhortation much less frequently heard on escalators, if heard at all, is that passengers should "stand on the right". That in contrast is something people do need to be reminded of, or if they are strangers to orderly society, to be informed about.
It seems to be more the rule than the exception for couples or knots of people to occupy both sides of the escalator, so blocking the way of others who might be in a hurry, or just want exercise.
If the benefit of the travelling public, rather than self-protection, were top priority for the MTR Corporation, we should hear far less about holding handrails and far more about standing on the right.
David Pollard, Tai Po
And another a couple of days later:
Puzzling policy change by MTR
I read the letter from David Pollard ("Pointless plea on escalators", February 7) with interest and probably about the same level of confusion as he has, although on a different note.
I have noticed for some time that the MTR Corporation has been focusing on asking people to hold the handrail, but with the addition of asking passengers not to walk while on the escalator.
I have wondered if the MTR Corp is trying to move away from the original "stand on the right and walk on the left", by hoping people will just stand and not walk on the escalators at all.
I am sure there are safety reasons for this, and have certainly noticed that some escalators now have painted feet on the treads so that we stand and are not tempted to walk.
It is a bit confusing to Hongkongers who have been used to one way, and then have it changed without it being explicitly made clear.
Perhaps the MTR can comment further.
Callan Anderson, Quarry Bay
Never fear, we have Peter Lok to tell us that we foreigners should do as we are told:
Aim is to avert serious accident
David Pollard's view on MTR announcements is outmoded ("Pointless plea on escalators", February 7).
The latest advocated practice is no longer to stand on the right and let those in a hurry overtake, but for everybody to stand still and hold the handrail, so as to prevent the domino effect of people piling onto those in front in the event of a sudden stoppage of the escalator.
Especially on a long downward stretch, such as the one leading from the Taikoo Shing shopping mall to the MTR station, the result of someone not holding the handrail while being shot forward in the event of such a stoppage could be disastrous.
The plea is therefore, "Do not walk" as well as, "Hold the handrail". So, Mr Pollard, when in Rome, please do as the Romans.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
But if this is the new policy, the MTR could at least make it completely clear. Surely that wouldn’t be so difficult? And maybe treat us like adults, eh?