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Trapped between the doors!

(Two sets of doors) This picture shows a short walkway connecting two buildings. There are a set of doors at each end of the walkway. A friend told me a funny story about the first time she used this walkway.

She was walking from one building to the other with a co-worker. They pulled the handles that opened the doors and went down the walkway. Upon reaching the other end they again pulled the handles, but the doors wouldn't budge. Assuming the doors were locked, they returned to the doors they originally opened to enter the walkway. But when they tried to pull open these doors, they wouldn't open either. They were trapped in the walkway between the two buildings!

My friend and her co-worker spent the next few minutes trying to signal to people though the windows in the buildings, but the people they signaled seemed strangely reluctant to come to the rescue. Finally, after trying the doors again, they discovered they needed to push the doors rather than pull them.

There are two problems with these doors. The first problem is that the handles are designed for pulling rather than pushing. Doors designed for pushing usually have handles with flat surfaces that look easy to push and hard to pull.

The second problem is that the two sets of doors work in opposite ways. To pass through the walkway you must first PULL open one set of doors and then PUSH open the second set of doors.

My friend has observed many other people getting "trapped" in this walkway. While it makes for a funny story, imagine if people unfamiliar with these doors had to cross from one building to the other in an emergency, like a fire. Then it could turn from a comedy to a tragedy.

Design suggestion

One way to solve this problem would be to install (swinging) doors that can be opened by both pushing and pulling.

Another solution would be to install appropriate door handles. Flat push-bar handles would be installed on the sides of the doors to be pushed; the pull-type handles like those shown here would be installed on the sides of the doors to be pulled.

Finally, PUSH and PULL labels could be added to the doors, but this would not be an ideal solution. Labels would only work for people who could read the language. They would only work under adequate lighting conditions. In practice, many people do not read such labels.

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