Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to use a door

The pace of technological change may leave many of us adrift, confused by a world of new apps, gadgets with more and more uses, and a constant bombardment of information. One new innovation that apparently confuses many people, both in its basic function and in the wide variations in individual design, is the door. Here, I hope to enumerate some principles that may help you navigate these dangerous machines.

  1. Follow all instructions intended for travelers in the form of signs, placards, indicators written on the floor, walls, or doors, or similar guidance.
  2. If you want to go somewhere on the other side of a door and it does not open automatically, open it, then proceed. To open it, push on the door. You may have to operate a lever, handle, knob, or lock first, as appropriate. Some doors also have buttons - see the advisory note below.
  3. If you reach the door at the same time as or slightly before someone with impaired mobility, yield and hold it open for them to go first. Some common causes of impaired mobility include carrying heavy loads, being wheelchair-bound, or being very old. If the door opens in both directions or in the direction you're going, the preferred way to hold it open is to go through it, stand aside, and then hold it open with one hand while gesturing with the other to indicate that the person may pass. If the door only opens contrary to the direction you're going, then pull it open and stand aside as much as possible while you hold it. In either case, do not proceed or hold the door in such a way that you cause further problems for the person with impaired mobility.
  4. You may choose to yield and hold a door for someone without impaired mobility. However, remain aware of your surroundings: if they have stopped for some reason, weren't going the way you think they were going, or yield passage back to you, you may be delaying things further.
  5. Some doors are double doors, meaning that there is a vertical opening with two doors that meet in the middle when closed. If there are no signs indicating how to use them and if both doors are in equally good repair and equally accessible, follow the same rule of thumb as in traffic: use the left to pass and stay on the right otherwise.
  6. Some public spaces have several doors side by side, all allowing passage to the same place. If they are all unlocked, then use as many of them as necessary to avoid congestion. Do not go to the one already in use if there is a long line for it.
  7. When doors allow access to enclosed spaces such as elevators or subway cars, the people leaving those spaces have the right of way. When you are trying to enter such spaces, yield to people leaving by standing to one side before you attempt to enter so they have room to safely proceed.

ADVISORY NOTE: Some doors are designed to be used by people with impaired mobility. Such doors generally have a button nearby so they can be opened with little force, leverage, or fine motor control. While it is not against the rules for people without impediments to use these buttons, they should be aware that doing so is generally slower than just opening the door on their own.

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