Last December I was interviewed on Triple R’s Parallel Lines with Sara Savage.
Parallel Lines asks: “how do arts, culture, science and design inform our everyday experiences in the world?”
At the time of the interview, the first episode of the podcast had just come out and I was there to talk about where the podcast came from, what it was going to be about and why escalators?
“The design and the history of them, in and of themselves, are not actually that interesting. But what I think is more interesting and what I’m trying to highlight in the show is the social impact that they’ve had.”
Sara asked me about my most memorable escalator experience and the answer was easy: Arsenalna Metro Station in Kyiv.
At 105.5 metres in length it’s the deepest metro station in the world.
The metro station is ranked #41 of #536 things to do in Kyiv according to Trip Advisor.
Parallel Lines, RRR
Welcome to People Movers: a podcast series about the impact escalators have had on everyday life. I’m Lindsey Green and throughout this series I’m going to talk to you about escalators in a way you’ve hopefully never thought of them before.
This episode is a little bit different to what I’ve normally been doing on the podcast.
Last year I was interviewed on Triple R on a show called Parallel Lines with Sara Savage. In Parallel Lines Sara explored how art, culture, science and design inform our experiences of the world. And that’s what I’m bringing you with this episode.
The interview happened in the middle of December 2017, so some of the episodes I talked about in the interview, have already happened. If this is your first time listening to the podcast, I’ll include links to the episodes I mentioned in the show notes.
You’re tuned in to Parallel Lines here on Triple R. And here’s a question for you. How much time do you spend thinking about escalators? Probably not that much. They’re probably something that many of us take for granted considering how long they’ve been around and how ubiquitous they are in everyday urban environments. Someone who thinks a lot about escalators is Lindsey Green who earlier this month launched People Movers: a podcast highlighting the impact of escalators on everyday life. Lindsey is a bit of a radio superstar. She’s the Content Development Coordinator at SYN and is co-host of 21st Century Women, the feminist program airing on Monday nights on on JOY FM. And I’m super thrilled to have Lindsey in the studio with me now. Hi Lindsey.
S: Thanks so much for coming in
L: Thanks for having me
S: So look. First thing’s first. Why escalators?
L: I guess all the reasons you’ve highlighted already. I started becoming more aware of them when I started paying more attention to them. So as you said, they are so ubiquitous, you take them every day, you don’t really notice them, they’re just kind of there to take you point A to point B. In my case from the train station up to the train platform and on the way to work and I guess I just started paying more attention to them and thinking about what an impact they’ve had to our lives and how much of an impact they would make if they weren’t there. I don’t think we really pay attention to how much of an impact they’ve made until they’ve broken down and then you really notice them when they’re not there, when they have broken down and you have to walk or take a lift or something like that to get over the fact that the escalator is not working and I guess I just noticed enough broken down escalators that it started to play on my mind a lot.
S: This feels like a funny question to ask but I am very curious. Have you had any memorable escalator experiences in your lifetime?
L: Probably. I started noticing them the middle of last year so I was, I guess, hyper-aware of them and I went to Kyiv earlier in the year for Eurovision…
L: That’s another story in and of itself but they have some of the most beautiful metro stations that I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of Soviet architecture and there’s one particular metro station called Arsenalna which is just before you get to the river separating Kyiv and I think it’s the deepest metro station in the world. The escalator takes five minutes to get down and it was such an experience being on this escalator. They had free wifi in the metro station and it was definitely a ride in and of itself to get from the street down to the train and I guess watching how everyone else moves and interacts with the space, because if it’s a 100 metre escalator…oh actually I can’t even visualise how long 100 metres is so maybe that is really long, but if it’s one of the Melbourne Central escalators you could easily walk up that. But you wouldn’t be walking up an escalator that takes five minutes to get from the top to the bottom.
S: I always go through Parliament Station on my commute and going up those escalators. I always walk because I’m quite impatient so I walk up the escalators but I’m so puffed by the time I get to the top because that’s a really long one. So the first episode of the podcast starts right at the beginning and without wanting to give too much away, because if anyone listening right now is interested, you should definitely give the first episode of People Movers a go, but Lindsey I wondered if you could share a little bit about what you’ve learned about the history of escalators and how they even came about in the first place. Were there any surprises for you in making this first episode?
L: I guess the history is not, not to discredit the podcast, I guess the history is not enormously exciting. Like a few people tried to invent it, they didn’t really work out, eventually a designer teamed up with a big escalator and elevator company and they designed something that actually worked. It seems like kind of a natural progression for how these things are sort of created. The design and the history of them, in and of themselves, are not actually that interesting, but what I think is more interesting and what I’m trying to highlight in the show is the social impact that they’ve had. So for example the next episode is going to be about the history of escalators in Australia and I’ve spoken to this man named Mark Dunn, he’s a Sydney based historian, and he was telling me these stories of when the first escalators were installed in Sydney and the enormous amount of people who showed up to when escalators were first installed and how much of a novelty and a joyride they were. And I think thinking back now we don’t even notice escalators, they’re just something we take for granted, but not too long ago like in the 50’s they were a joyride.
S: Yeah new and exciting!
L: Yeah they really were. So I think what has stood out to me more so than where they originally came from is that transition from being a novelty to something that’s so commonplace
S: And it’s strangely timely to be talking about Sydney and escalators in the podcast. I’m sure you’ve seen the new public art installation at Wynyard Station that repurposes the old wooden escalator parts. That could be an episode in itself
L: Yeah I think so. The historian I mentioned just before, we spoke about the Wynyard and the Town Hall stations in Sydney because they were some of the last stations in the world to have wooden escalators, they were removed because of safety, but the repurposing of those escalators that were really well loved, is I think really exciting. And will probably be a highlight of a future episode. Escalators as art, maybe.
S: I think what’s really interesting about escalators as a topic, kind of what you were saying before, is that it does bring a lot of other things into the conversation. You mentioned the social aspects and one thing I was thinking about is accessibility because there’s an accessibility conversation to be had about escalators which are ubiquitous but can’t necessarily be used by everybody. People in wheelchairs and people with prams and that kind of thing. But I did hear about accessible escalators I think it might’ve been in Japan. Have you heard of these?
L: No I haven’t
S: I probably should’ve done more research before I brought this up on the radio but I think there’s a particular kind of escalator where three steps can become one platform with a little ledge so the wheelchair is safe-ish, I don’t think it seems particularly safe, and can actually travel up on the escalator
L: Yeah that’ll be one to research as well
S: But another thing I’ve been thinking about, I’m very enthusiastic about your podcast Lindsey, is escalator etiquette. Is that something you’re becoming more aware of now that you’re thinking about escalators a lot?
L: Yeah definitely. I think that will be an episode to come out next year because people get riled up about it, which I guess is another element of the social impact that they’ve had, that people can get so angry about something that in the grand scheme of things is quite minute. And also it’s very location based as well. Particularly in London there are signs all over the place saying ‘stick to the right’ and it’s such a part of their culture, for want of a better word, which I think is funny considering it’s such a silly thing.
S: And I often get taken by surprise. I remember when I was in the States I kept standing on the wrong side, I was an escalator dickhead, and I didn’t mean to be one but I was
L: I do that a bit myself. I don’t like it about myself but sometimes when I’m feeling a bit stroppy and I’m on an escalator and there are people standing on the side they’re supposed to be walking on, even if I’m not in that much of a hurry, I just feel like I need to say ‘uh excuse me’ just to prove a point
S: I’m sure a lot of people listening could relate. Going back to your first episode now, I love you interviewed…I can’t remember the company
S: Oh KONE. I just love that it’s someone we probably wouldn’t hear from that much, someone who works for an escalator manufacturer?
L: Yeah they’re a manufacturer, I think his title is National Support Manager
S: Were they surprised that you were doing a whole podcast based on escalators or were they like ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life’?
L: Roger, the National Support Manager from KONE, he seemed a little bit like that when I was speaking to him. If you listen to the podcast he talks a lot about being really passionate about the elevator and escalator industry and I asked him if it was just a job to him or if he was actually really passionate about it and he told me about how he’s really passionate about the skyline, because he’s been in the industry for 40 years, seeing the skyline of cities grow taller and taller and taller because of the products he’s able to facilitate. So I think that’s another hidden benefit of making this podcast is that I get to talk to all of these people with such niche, some would consider not that interesting, interests but they’re just so excited about it.
S: And that makes for the best interviews
L: Yeah exactly particularly when I’m so excited about it as well. Roger was talking about being really passionate about esclatoea and elevators and being excited about the potential and I was on the other end of the line and obviously couldn’t make any noise because I was recording it but in my head I was like ‘yes you get it!’
S: That’s so good. I have to say, something I really love about the podcast so far, and we are only one episode in, but what I love about it is actually nothing to do with escalators it’s just your awesome style as a podcaster where you kind of lift the curtain on the process a little bit. Like you purposely left in some of the bits where you’re checking the pronunciation of your guest’s names or you’re figuring something out before you ask a question. It just makes for a really endearing listen. It kind of felt like as a listener I was getting to know you without you explicitly telling me anything about yourself
L: Yeah I guess that’s part of it as well. Because I guess the topic is inherently a little bit silly, then I feel like I’ve got a bit of creative license to be kind of silly myself and not take myself too seriously.
S: The serious business of escalators. Well Lindsey, before I let you go. When can we expect the next episode to come out?
L: I’m working on a fortnightly basis but because I’m working entirely by myself it’s really dependant on when I’m able to get it done but ideally on Saturday
S: Oooh very exciting. And without asking you to give too much away, can you share with us any information about what the podcast might explore in some of the episodes to come?
L: This coming episode is about the history of escalators in Australia. If anyone’s taken any notice of the Manchester Unity Building in the city on the corner of Collins & Swanston Street opposite the Town Hall, there’s a tour of that building and another really exciting interview. Future episodes will be about safety, design and efficiency, etiquette as we mentioned before, I’d really like to touch on escalators and capitalism particularly because of the impact they’ve had on department stores is so huge, escalators as art, probably accessibility as we mentioned before. And then the last one it would be really fun if it was an escalator enthusiast episode. So I’ll see if I can find anyone else who’s as into escalators as I am
S: I’m sure this is a really good way for you to find those people
L: I think so
S: I’m sure they come out of the woodwork. If you have just tuned in I’m speaking to Lindsey Green, Content Development Coordinator at SYN and co-host of 21st Century Women on JOY FM, but also the creator and host of a new independent podcast entitled People Movers which if you can’t tell already, is all about escalators. For all the info that you need and to have a listen, head to peoplemoverspodcast.com. Lindsey, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you
L: Thanks so much for having me
You can listen to Sara’s past interviews at rrr.org.au/program/parallel-lines/
You can follow People Movers on Instagram: we’re at people movers podcast. Full transcripts and more information can be found at peoplemovers podcast dot com. You can find it on iTunes or your podcast app of choice. Once you’ve done all that – leave me a nice review and tell your friends.
The music in this episode was provided by Tim and Dave of Umbra. Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/umbraduo.