Bloomberg: Take The Stairs

Michael Bloomberg wants New Yorkers to take the stairs. The bastard.

Michael Bloomberg wants New Yorkers to take the stairs. The bastard.

Politicker (“Bloomberg’s Latest ‘Nanny’ Move: Pushing People to Take the Stairs“):

First he came after the cigarettes. Then the trans-fats. Then the super-sized drinks. Now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is coming after the elevators.

City officials announced a new initiative this afternoon aimed at encouraging office workers to take the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Under legislation proposed by the mayor, all new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovation would be required to give occupants access to at least one stairwell, as well as post signs near elevators pointing to nearby stairs.

Another bill would increase the visibility of stairwells by permitting the use of hold-open devices on doors that would close automatically in case of an emergency.


Mr. Bloomberg, who said he personally almost always uses the stairs-and doesn’t stand still when he’s on an escalator-said that part of the challenge was to make being active hipper for young people across the city.

“What we’ve got to do is just make it cool-if you will-or socially more the norm to exercise, and that’s what you see here,” he explained. “The whole idea is not to change what you have to do, but to give you the idea and the impetus to do something that is in your best interest.”

Now, I don’t know what all of this costs. Implementation might be more burdensome than it seems at first blush. If so, I might oppose it on those grounds. But, otherwise, this strikes me as a perfectly sensible move. And, unlike some of his previous moves, there’s no obvious infringement on the liberty of the citizenry here to put this into “nanny state” territory.

Personally, I would take the stairs much more frequently in buildings were they easier to locate. Most in DC, at least, seem designed to force people to take the elevator, even if they’re going up or down just one or two floors. It’s especially annoying going down, which is easy on the body and faster than waiting for the elevator.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    I used to frequently visit a 10-story office building. The first time I went there, I decided to come back down via the stairs. I soon discovered that the stairwell doors were all locked from the inside — except for the ground floor door, which opened outside the building. It was obviously only there for emergency evacuation only.

    Sadly, my initial intent was to only go up two flights. That didn’t work out too well…

    This is one expression of Nanny Bloomberg’s maternalistic tyranny I can go along with.

  2. Ben says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Indeed, one of my company’s buildings is a 12-story office building in downtown Providence and the first time I tried to take the stairs down a couple floors, I found that I was locked in the stairwell and had to descend all the way to the ground and then take an elevator back up to get anywhere. It is incredibly annoying and when I complained to the real estate department about it, they gave me some BS about it being a security measure. I can’t fathom why allowing people to use the stairs instead of the elevator to go up or down a floor or two would impact security.

  3. John Peabody says:

    Stairs have been reduced to evacuation routs. If you ever visit older buildings, you will see sensational stairwells that are a joy to use.But fire codes have made them illegal to build. This is a great idea, though. My office building is two stories. I shook my head when the union forced the installation of an elevator.

  4. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, in my building I can only go down. The door in the lobby is locked so you can’t go up. I can go up & down 1 floor, to other floors my company uses, because they set up key-card access. Only to our 3 floors, though. For whatever reason, they did not set up key-card access at the lobby level.

    I’m on the 7th floor. In a less “secure” world, I could walk up those 7 floors every morning. As things stand, I cannot. Well, I hear that if you take the elevator up to 2, you can cut through and get in. But I’m not a big fan of doing that, as it involves walking through some other company’s space.

  5. Tyrell says:

    I often use the stairs because elevators are slow and crowded. I have found stairwells to be very utility oriented, with pipes and strong lighting. Many are dusty and usually too hot in the summer, with a dead, stale air. It would help to clean them up and maybe put a soft drink/water vending machine about half way. The most interesting stairwell is in the Washington Monument. You can read lots of old graffiti on the walls. I do not know if they. still let tourists use the stairs to get to the top or not, hope so.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Make stairs more visible, sure. Imagine that this has any impact whatsoever on obesity? Hah!

    Let me tell you from painful experience, all this facile advice from people who’ve never had a weight problem is b.s. You want to lose weight? You don’t trim a few calories and take the stairs. You slash calories and hit the gym in a serious way. It is hard. It is not easy.

    Down 38 pounds and not from choosing the low-fat dressing and climbing a few stairs.

  7. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Great on your fitness program. I have the problem of trying to gain weight. Milk shakes all day and no gain.

  8. Tim says:


    I think I speak for most of us here when I say, we all hate you! 🙂

    Or maybe it’s just envy, I’m not sure.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Bloomberg is right on the issue, but ….

    I tried to take the stairs out of my 15th floor office and at the 3rd floor I was instructed by building security to go no further and please exit the building through the elevators and the lobby. They view the stairs as an emergency option.

  10. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:


    Milk shakes all day and no gain.

    However, now you’ve brought all the boys to the yard.

  11. bill says:

    the city will be overwhelmed by 911 calls.

  12. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:
    That depends on the person. I took off 35-40 by cutting out sodas, eating a bit better and moving a bit more.