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shopping trolleys on travelators

by Dave Collins on August 23, 2016

shopping trolleys on travelators

Recent letter from a reader, anyone else had this experience?

Late yesterday afternoon (Saturday 18th May, 2013) I had what could have turned out to be a nasty accident on a travelator, located in a shopping centre in xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. 

Briefly, the scenario is this.  The shopping centre has a lower level car park (where I had parked my car) and an upper level, where the shops are.  The two levels are connected by dual travelators, one up and one down, at two different areas of the centre.  I had completed my grocery shopping, and used the supermarket’s trolley to wheel my purchases down to my car via the travelator.  The wheels of the trolley are made to slot into the travelator’s slotted plates so that the cart is locked while travelling down the travelator – normally a good idea.  I was pushing the trolley, thus standing behind it, while my wife was guiding it from the front – this is how we went down the travelator.  However, about halfway down, somehow (I still don’t know how), the front left corner of the trolley caught on the edge of the travelator and jammed the trolley.  I lost my footing and fell while the travelator pushed me hard against the back of the jammed trolley.  The trolley did not move, while the travelator kept moving, and I could not regain my footing because my legs were jammed hard against the back of the trolley.

I was very fortunate in that it was late and fairly quiet, and no shopping trolley was coming down behind me, otherwise I would have been crushed by the moving trolley and my stuck trolley.  Luckily my wife, who is very small and petite, eventually managed to heave the front of the trolley free, and I was able to regain my footing before we exited at the bottom.  Fortunately my injuries were fairly superficial, but it was a close run thing.  I’d never felt so helpless being ground against the back of my trolley and unable to get up.  Strangely while on the deck pushed hard up against the trolley, my thoughts were that this is a bloody stupid way to die, and why doesn’t this machine have a way of detecting a jam and stopping automatically.

By the time I reached the bottom I’d thought of one way that the travelator could detect a jam and stop, but I rejected it as not feasible.  Since then I’ve thought of a better way, which could also be retrofitted relatively cheaply (I think) to existing older travelators.

My question to you is this:  Are you aware of any methods of automatically detecting a jam on a travelator?  If so, are these fitted or (should/must be) retro-fitted to travelators?

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