We've all heard the horror stories of people getting injured on a moving escalator. How about this item from the July 3, 2013, edition of the New York Daily News: "A 32-year-old woman was chewed up by an escalator in a Harlem subway station Wednesday after she collapsed and her hair got snagged in the moving stairs." As painful as this sounds, such accidents are uncommon. But that doesn't mean escalators won't try to hurt you.
Recent research suggests that escalator handrails fall just behind restroom sinks and food court tables as the filthiest objects in a mall. When scientists have tested the hard rubber cover that makes up a rail, they've found a menagerie of disgusting items -- food, blood, mucus, urine and feces. They've also found potentially pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and bugs common to the upper respiratory tract [source: Dineen]. Taking the stairs seems like a good solution until you remember that you'll have to deal with another handrail. And the elevator is a germ incubator complete with bacteria-infested buttons. Best to stick with the escalator -- and stay away from the handrail.