A movable walkway, or moving sidewalk, is commonly found in high-traffic areas such as airports, train stations, theme parks, and shopping malls/shopping centers. Their intent is to provide convenient transportation for customers at a swifter pace than walking alone. However, these conveyor mechanisms can pose certain risks and lead to moving walkway accidents and injuries if proper precautions are not taken along the way. The dark side of moving walks includes common accidents like shoe laces getting trapped, toes getting lobbed off, and slips and falls leading to brain injury.
This article by Los Angeles moving sidewalk accident lawyer Michael Ehline will explore and help you learn about moving walkway accidents, common injuries, damages, and their causes. We will also discuss pursuing a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of an injured person wounded while taking a stroll along a moving walkway.
What are the different types of moving walkways?
Several types of movable walkways are designed to accommodate various needs and environments.
Common types of Pedestrian conveyor belts:
- Horizontal Moving Walkway:
- Straight Walkways: These are among the most common type of people movers and are often used in tandem with elevators and escalators at LAX and Las Vegas Airport. They provide a straight path for riders to move horizontally, typically through hallways and the center of atriums.
- Curved Walkways: Curved moving sidewalks are designed to accommodate turns or changes in direction. They allow for smooth transitions when the walkway needs to follow a curved path for the rider.
- Inclined Moving Walkways:
- Upward Inclined Walkways: These travelators are usually equipped with a handrail system and designed to transport walkers vertically, such as going up or down a slope or an inclined surface, to avoid inconvenience with the heavy luggage moving process.
- Combination Walkways: These pedestrian conveyors incorporate horizontal and inclined sections, allowing for seamless transitions between flat and inclined surfaces, as you might see at a shopping mall.
- Dual-Belt Moving Walkways:
- Side-by-Side Walkways: Often seen in airports, this is a type of mechanical dual-belt moving sidewalk consisting of two parallel belts and handrails, one horizontal escalator for each direction of travel. They are commonly used in high-traffic areas and airports for children and adults, including children, traveling to move in opposite directions simultaneously.
- Moving Ramps:
- Ramps with Moving Handrails: Moving ramps combine an inclined motorized pathway with handrails that move at the same speed, providing additional support and stability for users.
- Airport-Specific Walkways:
- Concourse Walkways: These conveyor systems are designed specifically for airports and are often longer and wider to accommodate large numbers of travelers and their luggage.
- Terminal Connectors: As LAX and others expand, sometimes passengers face a connecting relocation to another distant area. Terminal connectors are being used more and more as this occurs. They are a type of mechanical transport that connects different terminals within an airport, enabling travelers to move quickly and efficiently between different areas.
It’s important to note that the availability and specific types of conveyor belt configurations may vary depending on the location and facility. The design and features of a pedestrian conveyor belt are tailored to meet the specific environment’s needs, optimizing passenger flow and convenience.
By understanding the different types of horizontal escalators, you can better navigate and utilize them based on your specific requirements and travel destinations. Always follow safety guidelines and be aware of your surroundings while using these travelators to ensure a safe and efficient journey.
Available Moving Walkway Statistics
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 75% of escalator injuries result from falls, and 20% result in a finger, toe, or other body part getting trapped, stuck, or crushed. There are no reliable statistics on horizontal conveyor belts, so these should provide an idea even though escalators and people movers are two types of transportation systems.
Since they both serve the purpose of moving people on a moving escalator type of conveyor belt system, the main difference is the escalator is a form of moving stairs. Escalator accidents and horizontal conveyor belt systems cause people to sustain similar types of falling and trapping injuries as well. (ACCELERATING MOVING WALKWAY SYSTEMS – Safety and Human Factors) One small defect or maintenance problem can suck people into the edges and tear day visitors apart.
Designed to Move Along the horizontal or inclined surface
Do moving sidewalks prevent bottlenecks?
Moving sidewalks, and move walks, also known as travelators, can help prevent bottlenecks in certain situations.
Here’s how they contribute to reducing congestion and improving passenger flow:
- Increased Capacity: Moving sidewalks effectively increase the capacity of pedestrian pathways. By providing an additional means of transportation, they allow a larger number of people to move simultaneously compared to a regular, stationary moving sidewalk. This increased capacity can help prevent bottlenecks in high foot traffic areas.
- Efficient Passenger Movement: Moving sidewalks facilitate faster movement, especially for individuals who are using them correctly. Passengers on a moving sidewalk can cover greater distances in a shorter time, reducing the likelihood of congestion and bottlenecks.
- Smooth Transitions: Moving sidewalks can assist in creating smooth transitions between different areas within a facility, such as terminals, concourses, or connecting buildings, with no need to navigate staircases, escalators, or long stretches of stationary walkways. Experts agree these obstacles can contribute to congestion. With moving walkways, passengers can seamlessly transition from one area to another, reducing the chances of bottlenecks at transition points.
- Distribution of Pedestrian Flow: Horizontal escalators can help distribute the flow of pedestrians more evenly by providing an alternative route. These machines can also help divert some foot traffic away from crowded areas, spreading the load across pathways. This mechanical redistribution can prevent bottlenecks and congestion, creating a more efficient flow of people.
Proper design, placement, maintenance, adequate signage, clear instructions, and proper spacing between arteries are also crucial to smooth and efficient passenger movement. However, it’s worth mentioning that in some cases, bottlenecks may still occur due to other factors, such as limited space, inefficient terminal layouts, or large crowds during peak travel periods. Moving sidewalks can manage pedestrian flow in crowded areas. With the overall design and management of the facility, moving sidewalks facilitate smooth transitions and redistribute pedestrian flow. When implemented thoughtfully with other crowd management strategies, overall flow increases in high-traffic areas.
Most Common Accidents and Injuries
- Slip and Fall Injuries
Slips and falls are among the most prevalent types of accidents on a movable sidewalk. Seniors, in particular, are at risk for broken bones. People are often jockeying for positing, bumping, shoving, and pushing others on auto walks. The constant motion and sometimes slippery surfaces can cause individuals to lose their balance while carrying, pulling, or pushing luggage or cargo. A hard fall can lead to severe injuries to the elbows, legs, wrists, and muscles. In past incidents, people have suffered broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or even traumatic brain injuries if they strike their head on the hard surface of the glide path floor or railing.
To prevent slip and fall accidents, it is crucial to maintain the paths properly and promptly address any spills or slippery conditions. When engaged in heavy lifting while riding, make sure to bend at the knees to lift and brace yourself until the path is ended to avoid back injuries. Use common sense when riding a pedway. Ehline Law Firm offers a free consultation for clients seeking personal injury legal assistance at (213) 596-9642.
- Clothing Being Caught in the Moving Parts
Another significant cause of injuries during movable walkway accidents is when clothing gets caught in the moving parts of the mechanism. This type of accident is especially common among children, as their small bodies are more prone to being injured when clothing is trapped and pulled into the walkway’s machinery.
When clothing is caught, victims may experience contusions, lacerations, internal organ damage, and even strangulation. Educating individuals, especially children, about potential hazards can save body parts. Our lawyers suggest you encourage others to keep a safe distance and stay away from moving parts while riding on moving walkways.
- Entrapment of Fingers or Toes
About half of entrapment injuries are suffered by young children and kids under five years old. These little ones remain particularly susceptible to getting their fingers or toes trapped along the edge of the movable walkway rails. This entrapment can cause severe lacerations, including crushing injuries and broken bones. In extreme cases, victims face amputation, so building owners must stay on top. The downside of carlessness in travel is wrongful death and loss of a family member.
Proper maintenance and regular inspections of the moving sidewalk remain crucial to ensure there are no gaps or openings where children’s fingers or toes could get stuck. Additionally, raising awareness among parents and caregivers about the potential dangers can help prevent these accidents. The building owner’s insurance company will be liable to cover medical bills, surgery, and psychological counseling, assuming there is insurance at all to cover an incident.
Curious About Airport Moving Walkways? Here’s the Scoop
Airport mech walks, also known as travelators or conveyor belts, are common in airports worldwide. These mechanized walkways are designed to transport passengers quickly and efficiently within the terminal buildings.
Let’s delve into some details about airport moving walkways:
- Function and Purpose
- Enhancing Passenger Flow: These glide paths are installed in airports to improve passenger flow and reduce walking times between various areas, such as terminals, concourses, and gates.
- Accommodating Heavy Luggage: Airport moving walkways are especially beneficial for travelers carrying heavy luggage or those who may have difficulty walking long distances with little to no headache or property damage along the way.
- Types of Airport Moving Walkways:
- Straight Walkways: Straight-moving walkways provide a continuous path for passengers to move horizontally in a straight line. They are commonly found in terminal buildings and concourses.
- Curved Walkways: Curved pedways are designed to navigate turns or changes in direction, allowing for smooth transitions within the airport infrastructure.
- Dual-Belt Walkways: Dual-belt walkalators consist of two parallel belts moving in opposite directions. They enable passengers to travel simultaneously in both directions.
- Benefits of Airport Moving Walkways:
- Time Efficiency: These passenger conveyors help passengers save time by reducing the distance they need to cover on foot, especially in larger airports.
- Convenience: They provide a convenient mode of transportation, particularly for individuals with heavy luggage, the elderly, or those with mobility issues.
- Reduced Congestion: By distributing passenger traffic across pedways, airport congestion can be minimized, leading to smoother operations and improved overall efficiency.
- Safety Considerations:
- Pay Attention to Directions: Document your route in advance. Follow directional signage and adhere to the moving walkways’ designated entry and exit points to transport people. You don’t want to be in a situation you are lost and now have to run to make it to your flight or other departure point.
- Mind Your Step: Tie your shoelaces and keep an eye out for frayed belts with exposed steel and threaded belts. Take care when stepping on or off the walkways, ensuring your footing is secure. Beware that a child or adults can suffer broken hands, a finger amputation, or toe deglove in the belt and rollers at the sides of the machines. Consider wearing closed-toe shoes when traveling to places that use a moving sidewalk to avoid serious injuries and amputations. Don’t wear loose clothing or flip-flops, and pull your coat sleeve back when using the guardrails for support. Keep your feet and clothes away from moving parts. This can be dangerous and even fatal due to the many moving parts that can suck in the fingers and toes of your kids. Don’t risk a scrape, broken leg missing limb, or death by being careless in high-traffic areas.
- Watch for Hazards: Be aware of any obstructions or spills on the walkways that could cause slips or falls. Broken ankles and sprained ankles are common moving injuries that happen, and they get compounded by conveyor belts designed to move heavy objects and foot traffic on the ground. Get home safe without broken skin, lacerations, torn ligaments, or worse! Humans are fragile, so stay away from the gap in the belt system and keep an eye out to avoid tripping and any bumps along the way!
- Secure Personal Belongings: Keep loose items secure to avoid them getting caught in the moving walkway. When preparing for your flight, for example, secure or cut off loose or hanging belts, laces, and strings in advance. These are just a few tips so you can avoid being a plaintiff in a personal injury case trying to recover money for lost wages and medical bills for surgeons and doctors. Can you think of more?
The moving walkway machines at airports help play a vital role in streamlining passenger movement, improving efficiency, and enhancing the overall airport experience. When used responsibly and with awareness of safety guidelines, these walkways can significantly reduce the strain for stressed travelers. Sometimes riding one is fun if you are not rushing. When at the airport, the convenience and efficiency of a moving walkway can make your travel experience more comfortable and time-efficient.
Duty of Moving Walkway Operators
Businesses and venues that are open to the public generally have a legal duty of care to ensure their premises are maintained carefully and reasonably safely. This means they must regularly inspect the building and its equipment for damage. Landlords must fix things if they encounter something breaking down or in need of renovation. Given enough time, things break down. When it does, things get dangerous. Sometimes they don’t want to spend the money on repair costs, frustrated by the lack of profits.
But this is a legal duty of care. Plaintiffs who are hurt can sue under the concept of premises liability, which holds property owners (one defendant or more) and occupiers responsible for preventing harm to individuals who enter their premises. The specific extent of the duty of care can vary based on factors such as the jurisdiction and the nature of the premises.
Moving Walkway Etiquette
Following proper moving walkway etiquette is essential to ensure a smooth, efficient, and pleasant experience for everyone. As with all things, communicate in a civil way as you go about the tasks on your travel schedule.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Keep to the Right: Just like driving on the road, staying on the right side of the moving walkway is customary. This allows people who are in a hurry or wish to walk to pass on the left.
- Stand on the Right, Walk on the Left: If you’re not in a rush and prefer to stand on the moving walkway, position yourself on the right side, leaving the left side clear for those who want to walk or pass. This helps maintain a clear path for faster-moving individuals.
- Respect Personal Space: When standing on the moving walkway, give some space between yourself and others. Avoid crowding or standing too close to someone else unless there’s limited space available.
- Be Mindful of Directional Signage: Pay attention to any directional signage or instructions provided regarding the appropriate use of the moving walkway. Some moving sidewalks may have specific instructions or designated entry and exit points.
- Step Off Promptly: If you reach your intended destination on the moving walkway, step off promptly to allow others to pass without obstruction. Avoid lingering or stopping abruptly in the middle of the walkway.
- Be Cautious with Bags and Luggage: If you’re carrying bags, suitcases, or other items, keep them close to you and ensure they don’t block the path or create hazards for other passengers. Be mindful of the space you occupy to maintain a smooth flow of traffic.
- Avoid Distractions: Stay attentive and avoid distractions such as excessive phone usage, reading, or engaging in activities that might impede your awareness of others on the moving walkway. Being aware of your surroundings helps prevent collisions or accidents.
- Help Those in Need: If you notice someone unsafely bending over, struggling, or in need of assistance, including assisting individuals with mobility issues, as well as families with young children or older passengers who may need extra support after a crash.
Remember, following moving walkway etiquette aims to ensure a safe and efficient experience for everyone. Always be considerate to others. Always adhere to safety guidelines, as this will contribute to a smoother flow of pedestrian traffic and create a positive environment for all walkway users.
Are you supposed to walk on a moving walkway?
Walking on a moving walkway is generally acceptable and often encouraged, especially if you are in a hurry or prefer to maintain your own walking pace. However, it’s important to be mindful of your particular location’s specific rules and guidelines.
Here are some points to consider:
- Stand or Walk: Moving walkways are designed to accommodate both standing and walking passengers. Many people choose to stand on the right side to allow others to pass on the left. However, if you prefer to walk, you can do so on the left side or in a designated “walk” lane if available.
- Follow Signs and Instructions: Pay attention to any signage or instructions provided near the moving walkway. Some locations may have specific rules for standing, walking, or designated areas.
- Respect Local Customs: Etiquette and customs regarding moving walkways may vary across different regions and cultures. In some places, walking on the moving walkway may be more common, while in others, standing may be the norm. Observe and follow the practices commonly seen in your specific location.
- Be Mindful of Safety: If you choose to walk on a moving walkway, be cautious and maintain a steady pace. Watch your step when transitioning on or off the walkway to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
- Consider Congestion and Flow: If the moving walkway is crowded or congested, standing rather than walking may be more appropriate to avoid collisions or create further congestion. We recommend you use your best judgment and adapt to the situation accordingly to survive and thrive.
Ultimately, the decision to walk or stand on a moving walkway depends on your preference, the specific rules or customs in the location, and the current flow of pedestrian traffic. As long as you are considerate of others and adhere to any applicable guidelines, walking on a moving walkway can be a convenient option to reach your destination efficiently.
Liability in Movable Walkway Accidents
In the event of a movable walkway accident, it is essential to determine liability for the injuries sustained. Commercial property owners, maintenance companies, and service and repair firms can be held responsible if someone is seriously injured on a movable walkway. Often, maintenance companies are found liable for injuries because they are responsible for ensuring the safety of these walkways.
If you have been injured in a movable walkway accident in California, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the property owner, manufacturer, installer, or maintenance company responsible for the walkway’s upkeep may be held liable for your injuries.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney
Dealing with the aftermath of a movable walkway accident can be overwhelming, especially when navigating legal matters and negotiating with insurance companies. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can provide significant benefits in such situations. A California personal injury attorney understands the complexities of these cases and can effectively advocate for your rights. They can handle negotiations with insurance companies and work to secure a settlement that covers your current and future medical expenses.
If you’ve been injured in a movable walkway accident, it is crucial not to handle your claim alone. Contact the legal team at Ehline Law Firm for a no-cost consultation. Our experienced attorneys are available 24/7 to guide you through the tedious legal process. Mike Ehline is ready to fight for the justice and compensation clients and their loved ones deserve. Victims are our priority; we are here to help them through this challenging time. We are ready to win through a verdict, a court settlement, or a hard-fought settlement.