When I worked in an office building, we had a couple elevators. The stairs were out of the way, all the way at the end of the hall, and the doors to the stairwell were heavy and closed really loudly. I guess they wanted to make sure the doors remained closed as much as possible in order to keep heating and air conditioning costs down. I usually took the elevator, but sometimes I would sprint up the stairs. It wasn’t all that difficult, since I worked on the second floor.
Well, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at it again with trying to make people healthier by placing restrictions and regulations on businesses. He tried banning sodas in greater-than-16-ounce containers, but a federal court struck down his proposal the day before the regulation was to take effect.
Now, he’s trying to get people to stop taking the elevator at work. I’m sure he’d like to ban them, but perhaps his experience with the soda ban showed that he should take a more incremental approach.
His own proposed law would require newly constructed buildings and those under major renovation to have at least one easily accessible stairwell with clearly marked signs near the elevators indicating where the stairs are. Some stairwell doors will be equipped with hold-open devices that will only shut in an emergency.
It’s about making sure we’re all healthier. Politicker reported:
“‘Whether you’re tall or short, fat or thin, you’ll be healthier and you’ll live longer if you’re more active. But the problem is we’ve been lulled into a sedentary lifestyle,’ said Department of Design and Construction Commissioner David Burney at a Manhattan press conference at The New School. In too many buildings, the stairs are hard to find, kept locked, armed with alarms, or dark and windowless–making people afraid to use them, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. The programs are designed to change that, he said.”
Bloomberg said that he always uses the stairs and never stays still on an escalator. Isn’t he such a good person? He just wants everyone else to be as good as he is.
He said that the major challenge in this initiative is making young people think that taking the stairs is the “hip” thing to do. They have to convince kids that it’s “cool” to avoid the elevators and escalators in favor of scaling flights of stairs. Good luck with that. What is Bloomberg going to do, start a TV advertising campaign that shows all the “cool” and “hip”-dressed kids taking the stairs and thumbing their noses at the elevators? Yeah, I’m sure that would have a profound and lasting effect on the youth. Trying in this manner to convince kids that sexual abstinence is “cool” would be equally as effective.
I have absolutely no problem with a building or business wanting to make stairs as easily accessible as elevators. Especially if the free market demands it. A lot of people would no doubt appreciate it. But if there is no real demand for it, then businesses shouldn’t be forced into compliance by some arbitrary government mandate. This isn’t about keeping people healthy and safe. It’s about the government trying to control people’s behavior.