Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rape Stairs: A Practical Design?

This is not exactly graphic or even visual design, but because I googled it, thought about it all week, and decided it is designED to be as it is, I thought I would blog about it...

At a football game a few weeks ago, I was walking down the stairs to the stadium and I noticed a woman with a child in front of me taking their sweet time. As per usual I was running late and needed to rush but I didn't want to be rude and rush around them.
Anyway, as I was trotting down the stairs, I noticed that they were uneven. Equal in height from one step to another, but every other step was about a foot longer than the others, which were pretty shallow, front to back. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I looked up, trying to find a pattern or a slope in the natural hill that would warrant such a design. Nothing.
So, I called my boyfriend- he loves all things architecture and is a wealth of otherwise useless information. Turns out, there IS a reason.
Rape stairs.
What?? I hope you all comment to tell me whether you've heard of this concept before, because I'm interested to know if it's a common peice of knowledge-- I'd never heard of such a thing.
Apparently, studies have shown that women can climb stairs of unequal lengths and patterns exponentially faster than their male counterparts. Apparently it is nearly impossible for a man to run up unequal stairs. According to Aaron (boyfriend) nine times out of ten a guy would "eat it" by the third stair, whereas a women would skip right up them, essentially escaping the wrath of a predator.
Because of this information, colleges, schools and universities everywhere are starting to replace crumbling old stairs with the kind with uneven steps- making them safer for the women on campus.
Surely there is a better name for them-- but after extensive Googleing, I found information to confirm Aaron's answer, but I didn't find a better name. Let me know if you know of one.


  1. I have never heard of that but I am definitely googling it now!

  2. When I was just a tot (aka college freshman) I was told about rape stairs. There's a set on Towson's campus right outside of the University Union. The only problem with the plan though is that parallel to the stairs is a nice grassy hill that any athletic male could easily and quickly climb. One day my friends and I did race each other on them and I can't say that any of my male friends ever "ate it".