The first escalator was introduced to the public at Coney Island, New York City in 1896. Though, this particular device was a little more than an inclined belt with cast-iron slats on the surface for traction. Nowadays, millions of people use modern escalators with ribbed steps. This feature is not a designer’s move, but rather, a very important element of a big mechanical device.

Bright Side decided to figure out the reason behind these significantly shaped steps.

Why are steps on escalators ribbed?

During fall and winter, escalator steps accumulate a lot of water which makes them slippery. To avoid passenger injuries, steps have embossed vertical strips. They improve traction between passengers’ shoes and the escalator steps.

Different trash like candy wrappers and used tickets fall onto the moving staircase. If the steps were smooth, all this trash would go under the comb plate at the bottom or top of the platform and damage the escalator. But thanks to the ribby surface of these steps, all trash is carried away to the floor outside the escalator.

Why do handrails move faster than the steps?

During escalator maintenance, the drive gears wear out and the speed of the handrail decreases. This is a signal that the escalator needs to be repaired.

Thanks to these well-thought details we don’t need to climb stairs but can ride comfortably and safely instead. Enjoy!

Would you like to know how other devices work? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll try to answer your questions in future articles.

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