Home View from Underground Stand clear of the opening doors please

Stand clear of the opening doors please

by Benjamin Kabak

The New York Post highlights the little things that bug us all. Click to enlarge.

As part of my endless commute home last week, I experienced a distinctly annoying aspect of riding the subways. When the 2 train for which I had just waited 17 minutes pulled into Atlantic Ave., the dreaded and familiar “ding” of the PA system’s manual override rang out, and the conductor announced that the 2 would be going express from Atlantic Ave. to Franklin St. Many of my fellow riders and I surged toward the door only to be greeted by an immovable mass of door-blockers. These straphangers would not relinquish their plum positions leaning against the doors and barely gave way as people filed out of the train.

A few days before that incident, The Post, in an informal survey of 300 New Yorkers discovered that the number one annoyance of urban life in the Big Apple isn’t the noise or the crowds. It’s not the frenetic pace of city life or mind-numbingly bland street fairs. Rather, it is people who block subway car doors. While 20.9 percent say slow tourists who don’t know how to walk properly are the leading cause of urban frustration, 24.8 percent say people too inconsiderate to give way at subway stations are the most annoying in New York City.

Rashaun Simon, a 23-year-old from Queens, hit the nail upon the head in his assessment of door hogs, akin to pole hogs and seat hots in their manners. “It’s a hospitality issue,” Simon said. “They’re the same people who don’t give up their seats to pregnant women.”

In essence, these people are the oblivious riders. Similar to those who surreptitiously discard papers, dirty napkins or chicken fingers and french fries on the floor of subway cars without stopping to clean up, the door hogs are the people who think the rules don’t apply to them. They can stand in the door because the subways are there for them and the rest of the people on board are the ones in the way. Plus, aren’t there usually two or three other seats of doors? Just exit through those instead.

The door hogs too transcend issues of personal space. They actively hinder train operations because they act as a funnel for people exiting and boarding the car. If a door hog is blocking half of the entrance, the load times at that door are delayed, and everyone must wait just so this one person can lean back for 20 seconds in between stations.

In the face of such obliviousness then, what is a polite straphanger to do? As with anything underground, the appropriate response would be to kill them with kindness. “Excuse me please” or even a subtly sarcastic “excuse me” often do the trick. A courteous door-leaner will step out of the train at the next stop and then move to the center of the car as he or she boards again. The person who thinks they take up less space than they actually do will try to smoosh themselves against the row of seats as people file by.

The problems arise when a door hog doesn’t move when asked. Then, it becomes a question of picking a fight, intentionally or inadvertently. A well-placed shoulder, elbow or flying bag can get the message across. A dirty look might do the job too. But the trick is to leave the train car without creating a physical incident with the person who obviously cars little about anyone but themselves.

It just might a losing battle though to fight the door hogs. They don’t move because they don’t want to move, and nothing anyone can do will stop them. The door hogs will always be an identifiable part of the subway system, and as Aramis Reynoso said to The Post, “The things that annoy you about New York are usually the things that define New York.”

LIRR Update: For the latest news on the delays plaguing the Long Island Rail Road and the agency’s plan for the Wednesday commute, please read this post. I’ll update with new information as it becomes available throughout the day.

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JE August 25, 2010 - 1:36 am

Look for the silver lining, Ben. The newest cars in the fleet have extra-wide doors, meaning that access is somewhat easier even if hogs bookend the doors.

Alon Levy August 25, 2010 - 5:31 am

How come more Brooklynites than Manhattanites put slow-walking tourists at the top?

Kid Twist August 25, 2010 - 9:47 am

Manhattanites take taxis.

nycpat August 25, 2010 - 5:44 pm

Absolutely! Before I started working in the subway I would either walk or take a cab. Five six miles? No problem.

SEAN August 25, 2010 - 11:21 am

It’s the same with Long Island drivers. A good portion come from Brooklyn. They have the atitude of “this is my space so excuse you.

I’ve sene similar trends on the LIRR, but not so much on MBNR. I wonder if it is conditioning. I mean at PSNY when a train is anounced, everyone rushes to the gate to board. At GCT you look at the departure board & walk to the platform. Unless of cource you have only one minute to catch the train.

JP August 25, 2010 - 7:56 am

Sorry, POST but the bulk of those aren’t “annoying”. I’m with them on the doors thing but they left out littering, or found it wasn’t that irksome.

I used to get really upset about tourists, and then traveling one day, realized that I was one and started laughing. Standing around, marveling at the place, enjoying it. And now I don’t care about tourists in New York. It’s not annoyance, it’s jealousy. Sure nobody loves to fight a crowd but face it – when you’re in a rush or just trying to get somewhere, chances are you’d rather be on vacation in a strange and amazing place. The solution is to let it go.

Cell-users and box-blockers are just as bad as cyclists who run lights: they think they’re more important than the rules we all live by and put the rest of us- and themselves- in danger. That’s not annoying but careless and stupid.

JE: Don’t worry, the door blockers will just go three-wide. Haven’t you squeezed into a crowded car to find yourself sideways in the middle?

And Hipsters? Really?

Tim August 25, 2010 - 8:46 am

I’d definitely put hipsters high on my list.

But door blockers are indeed the worst. I’ve definitely lobbed f-bombs at people who’re impeding the flow of traffic. When 10 people crowd up to the door to get onto the subway car as I’m getting off, my elbows go out to the side and I part the red sea, because I know they’re not going to miss their train to go after me. You’d think NYC residents would be able to figure it out by this point.

As for tourists, I’m not so mad because they tend to stay in the tourist-y areas, like Times Square, which I usually avoid. M biggest gripe is resident new yorkers who can’t walk in a straight line and zig zag back and forth down the sidewalk at a speed that makes it impossible to pass them.

Christopher August 25, 2010 - 12:15 pm

Or in groups of four, standing abreast! That drives me insane.

petey August 25, 2010 - 2:03 pm


John August 25, 2010 - 12:17 pm

Door blocking and littering sometimes goes hand in hand. I was on a train a couple weeks ago and saw a guy chilling by the door drinking a coffee. Then at one of the stops when the doors opened he just threw the empty cup behind him out the door, onto the tracks. It was an amazing display of laziness and entitlement, all in one.

oscar August 25, 2010 - 9:50 am

people need to be more mindful of the bags they carry..whether its backpacks, shoulder bags, hand bags, shopping bags, all of the above – they seem not not realize, or not care, that it takes space, hits others, can be wet/dirty, etc. drives me nuts

and of course most times you need to say an “excuse me” or what not, their ears are plugged with iPods and they are oblivious.

Dick Whitman August 25, 2010 - 12:05 pm

Very, very true.

Kid Twist August 25, 2010 - 9:50 am

Yelling “move” sometimes works. It catches them offguard and they hesitate to pick a fight because they think you just might be a nutcase.

JP August 25, 2010 - 8:14 pm

unless they call your bluff, in which case you’re in a fight when you could have just politely said “please get out of my way”.

Dick Whitman August 25, 2010 - 12:00 pm

Absolutely, door hogs are the worst. Step out of the train at the next stop, let everyone off and get back on. It’s not a difficult or risky thing to do. First one off, first one back on. My favorite are the people who are in the middle of the doorway and they try and push their way to the center pole, rather than step out of the train. No one can get by because they’ve got the center area blocked and two door hogs are blocking either end of the doorway. Absolute idiocy ensues.

Also, the phrase “excuse me” does not mean that the laws of physics do not apply and you can step on the train at the last second and create room for yourself on a downtown express train at 8:30 a.m.

Eric August 25, 2010 - 12:28 pm

Alternatively, I dislike people that think that they’re going to manage to be the last person onto a packed car with no more room. This happens on the 7 with alarming frequency.

Christopher August 25, 2010 - 12:43 pm

Personally I just dislike people.

nycpat August 25, 2010 - 5:45 pm

Hell is other people.

Andrew D. Smith August 25, 2010 - 12:50 pm

I can think of two ways to eliminate the door blockers:

1. The MTA, through signs and employees, could create a culture where everybody felt free to order door blockers to move and automatically got the backing of the entire car. Few people have the tenacity to hold their ground with a car-full of people shunning them.

2. Incorporate into the next set of subway cars a design that made it unpleasant to stand by the doors. Perhaps the walls or floor could vibrate slightly or emit some sort of harmless but annoying electrical pulse. (This is one of the reasons that we cannot expect subway cars to last 40 years. People expect a steady stream of improvements. Cars will be much better 40 years from now but the subway cars we’re getting will just be worse from wear.)

IanM August 25, 2010 - 12:53 pm

Huh. Door-leaners don’t bother me nearly as much as the people who try to charge onto the train as soon as the doors open, as if they’re unaware that there are people who need to get off first. At those times, I’ll often just lower my shoulder a bit and keep my 210 lbs moving briskly off the train. Maybe they’ll step aside the next time.

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Rob August 25, 2010 - 3:23 pm

One thing lost in this survey is door-holders. I am also annoyed by people who hold the doors open, that is the height of a “me” mentality.

The other annoying thing is people not moving to the middle of the car during rush hour, come on people… maybe we could all get there faster if we used all the space in the car.

paulb August 25, 2010 - 3:43 pm

I once wrote transit about door blockers, I got some reply from Jared Lebow that I didn’t understand at the time and now can’t remember.

But basically, I asked why police couldn’t write door blocking up as a summons infraction. Pull someone off the train, give them a desk appearance ticket, or whatever it’s called. I once got a $50 ticket in Union Square Park for trying to see if a squirrel was at all interested in a piece of an apple. I may have inconvenienced the squirrel but no human in the vicinity seemed to care, at the time. Except the park officer.

A $50 hit is very likely to make riders more careful about obstructing the doors.

Rob August 27, 2010 - 7:09 pm

Thats a good idea paulb.

Denyse August 13, 2012 - 12:38 pm

Along with the “door hoggers” what about people who saunter on and off the train while twittering, flittering and whatever the hell else they do these days with no regard for the 50 other people waiting to get on or off! Also, people who literally push you out of the way to get a seat! I hate commuting!!! It’s not the job I dislike but the hell of a commute! Also some people do not practice proper hygiene.
Also, those damn “performers” who block the walkways. I could write a book. “MTA Madness”

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