Chicago airport_people mover.jpg

The current issue of New Scientist magazine reports on two new mathematical models created by Princeton Engineering postdoctoral researcher Manoj Srinivasan demonstrating that airport "people movers" — those human conveyor belts that propel passengers from point A to B — tend to slow down travelers.

"Srinivasan’s models predict that when a person steps onto a moving walkway, they slow their foot speed by about half the speed of the walkway," reports MacGregor Campbell in the New Scientist. "This suggests that our desires to conserve energy and to resolve the conflict between visual cues and leg muscle signals — your eyes tell you that you are going faster than your legs are taking you — slow us down so that our total speed is only slightly greater than it would have been on regular ground."

When the airport is congested, as it often is, this means that travelers would get wherever they are going faster if they just walked.

The Daily Telegraph also reports on the research.

Above photo of Chicago airport by base10, Flickr/Creative Commons