Why did God give you two feet if you’re not going to use them? Did your mother ask you that when you begged her for a ride?

I was thinking about the expression recently as I dashed up an escalator. A short escalator. Why do we have so many of these anyway, I found myself thinking. In office buildings, in malls, in department stores. …

Sure, they are useful when you are carrying a heavy bag (say, at the airport), or must ascend a long way (think Porter Square subway station in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Or if your leg is broken and you are hobbling around on crutches. But based on my personal observation, these situations are the exception, not the rule.

Most escalators run – and use energy – all day long, whether people are riding them or not. The amount of energy depends on the escalator model; also, they are designed to run more efficiently when full – which they often aren’t. In Europe, I’ve seen escalators that slow down when no one is on them, which saves energy. But I don’t recall running into those in the United States.

I do realize that if you use your own two feet to climb the stairs but the escalator is still humming along right next to you, that’s not going to save on energy use (though the exercise, in and of itself, is a good thing).

Maybe we can start a movement? Down with escalators! (as opposed to “Take the down escalator”).