Here’s Why Escalators Have Brushes

Contrary to popular belief, escalator brushes are not actually for cleaning your shoes.

Many of us have ridden an escalator before, whether that be in an airport, a mall, or just around town. You’re probably thinking, what kind of interesting facts are there to really learn about a moving staircase? Well, besides those escalator grooves, haven’t you ever wondered what the brushes on the side of escalators are for? You know what we’re talking about. You’ve probably brushed your shoes up against them from time to time just because. Interestingly enough, they actually do serve a purpose other than cleaning the dirt off your shoes.

What are escalator brushes called?

Drum roll, please! Escalator brushes are called… escalator brushes. Not very exciting, we know. Although, some do call them skirt deflectors because they kind of resemble a skirt if you can imagine an escalator in an outfit. Just kidding! The skirt is actually what the gap between the stairs and the side is called. This is just one of those weird facts you probably haven’t thought about until just now.

Why do escalators have brushes?

The escalator brushes are actually a safety feature. These skirts keep shoes, feet, loose clothing, you name it away from the gap. They kind of serve as a warning sign or a buffer, if you will. Think about it: when you hop on an escalator, you probably aren’t very concerned about the safety features. Aside from keeping your balance and scoffing at the people running up the moving staircase (news flash: walking up escalators isn’t any faster than the regular stairs,) the gap is probably the least of your concern. But an escalator is a machine and machines break. Accidents happen.

How do these brushes make escalators safer?

Some escalators have a yellow border as an indication not to get too close to the edges, but some do not. All escalators do have brushes though. The small gap (the skirt) between the stairs of the escalator and the sides, leads down into where all the gears are that make the escalator work. When things get stuck in that gap, like bags, jackets, and even toes, they can get wedged between the motors causing the escalator to stop working properly (and your toes to stop working properly). The escalator is powerful enough to cause some real damage to human body parts.

Many escalator accidents have been a direct result of a hand or foot getting caught in the crevice. So, escalator brushes were incorporated as a safety standard to either stop something from entering the gap or deflecting it. Maybe now we’ll all be a little more careful next time we get on an escalator. Now that you know all about escalator brushes, find out which state only has two escalators.

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