by Ken Webb
The New York Times
A New Yorker questions whether the alarms on emergency exit doors in the New York subway system are necessary safety measures — or harmful annoyances.
For a very long time, the blaring alarms at the exits of the New York subway system have driven me crazy. On my daily commute, I ride in the last train car, and at my stop I wait about a minute before heading to the turnstiles. By the time I arrive, the crowd has hopefully gone and the alarm is hopefully silent. But if that approach fails and an alarm is blaring, I’ll stubbornly exit through the revolving doors instead of joining the rest of the crowd in an easy passage through the open “emergency” door. Call me irrational if you want. But I really hate those alarms.
In this Op-Doc video, I posit that the alarms are not just noisy nuisances — they are actually potentially harmful. And if people are going to keep using those doors, I want to know why those doors exist. I had to get to the bottom of this. The Op-Doc that follows is my attempt to do just that. I know the M.T.A. has turned off its alarms in areas with attendants. But that has left a whole lot of other alarms still going, for no apparent reason. And while New York City Transit has proposed turning off all the alarms, it has no current plans to do so.
Initially, I was annoyed by those who ignored the warning on the doors about the alarm and emergency exit notice. I thought about interviewing the people who open the doors, those who lead the rest of us hapless lemmings into acoustic hell. They almost seem to take pride in being the first to go through the door. Finally, I accepted that people are not going to change — we need to change the system.
Subway Alarm | Op Docs | The New York Times
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