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24 Things You Shouldn’t Do On the London Underground

Written by on 27th March 2017
Category: London

If you’ve ever been to London, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the wonders of the Underground. It gets you from point A to point B with minimum fuss and there’s so many stops that you can get to within walking distance of pretty much anywhere in the capital. However, regular passengers have a certain love/hate relationship with the tube. That’s partly due to the sometimes temperamental service, but mostly due to the exhibition of appalling human behaviour. On that note, here’s our list of 24 Things You Shouldn’t Do On the London Underground .

1. Eat stinky food

Eating on the Tube

Whatever’s in that polystyrene container, this man’s clearly not impressed.

Is that an egg and cress sandwich you’re shovelling in to your mouth? Oh good, some of the egg’s missed your face and is now on the floor, ready to be smeared across the carriage by an unaware passenger. Novel idea: eat before or after you get on to give the rest of us a break from the stench and mess.

2. Lean on people

Yes, the tube can be crammed at times and breaking the barriers of personal space can be unavoidable. But don’t use your surrounding passengers to support your weight. Get one hand on the rail, your feet shoulders’ width apart and bend at the knees for a smooth ride.

3. Wear a backpack

This is one of the SilverDoor team’s top pet hates. Feel free to travel with a backpack, but, BY GOD, take it off your shoulders before you spin and potentially decapitate a fellow passenger.

4. Take your bike on the tube in rush hour

We can let off those who have sensibly opted for a folding bike, but the people who think it’s fine to bring their fully-fledged road bike on to the tube need to take a long hard look at themselves. If you’ve invested in a bike, go outside and ride it.

5. Lean on the pole

What NOT to do in #rushhour #poleleaner #nyc #mta #subway

A post shared by Samantha Modell (@nycbuildingsphotographer) on

Respect the pole. If everyone plays fair, you can get about 4 or 5 hands on a vertical carriage pole. If you prefer to slump up against it (why would you want to touch it more than you absolutely have to?) then it’s only helping one person. How selfish.

6. Manspreading

A post shared by marisamerica1 (@marisamerica1) on

The seats on the tube allocate adequate space from which you shouldn’t protrude. If you find your legs are outside the width of the seat, you are officially ‘manspreading’ (is there a female equivalent for this term?). Congratulations, the person next to you is cramped and silently cursing you, while the person opposite has to avoid making eye contact with your crotch.

7. Play loud music

“Oh, I love Coldplay, can you turn this one up?” said no one ever. Please, please, please invest in some in-ear headphones for the tube. If the person in question is playing musical directly from the speaker of their device, do not approach them. They’re clearly insane and cannot be reasoned with.

8. Not stand up for pregnant people

This one’s a serious faux pas, however, there are certain situations where it can be difficult to judge if a woman’s pregnant. If you ask a woman who’s just had a particularly large lunch if they need your seat, you may just be in for the most awkward/tense journey of your life. Thank god for those baby on board badges.

9. Not move out the way to let people off the tube

We struggle to communicate in London. That’s why the unwritten rules are so important. I don’t want to ask you to move, you should see by the way I pick up my bag and eagerly look towards the exit that I’m getting off the tube. To the people who temporarily step out of the carriage to allow the flow of passengers in and out during rush hour, you’re the real heroes.

10. Initiate conversation

This was a point of serious debate between colleagues in the office. Our resident northerner couldn’t believe that we could condemn such a friendly approach to public transport. For us Londoners though, you don’t start conversation, you don’t even make eye contact with your fellow passengers. Anyone who does should be treated with extreme caution.

11. Have BO

At the best of times, the tube can be a claustrophobic travelling experience. Don’t make things worse by skipping your morning shower. No one wants to hold their breath between stops and then gasp for air as soon as the doors slide open.

12. Let your dog sit on a seat when it’s busy

A post shared by Hannah Winter (@hannahmwinter) on

People that I’d happily stand up for: the elderly, the disabled, the young and the pregnant. Things I will not stand up for: bags, a McDonald’s or a pet. They either sit on your lap or they can stand (the pet, that is).

13. Get on the tube before people get off

When discussing this blog post in the office, a colleague became genuinely flustered when explaining their boundless hatred of people who get on the tube before people get off. Now, we don’t quite condone their action of shoulder barging those who partake in this act of disregard for social etiquette, but, in the proper British way, the perpetrator should be shamed with the loudest of tuts.

14. Stand on the left on escalators

A post shared by Victoria Tills (@v_tills) on

So, you’ve managed to breathe through your mouth to avoid the stench of a tuna sandwich, hassled your way through the troves of people attempting to enter the carriage while you’re getting off, and now you’re ready to ascend the escalator to the freedom of the outdoors. But wait. There’s someone standing on the left hand-side of the escalator. You can’t get past them! At this point, turn around, sprint down the escalator, get back on the tube, go home, and get into bed. It’s not your day.

15. Busking

 

Tube busking needs to stop – do not approach this man #justno #londonunderground #tubebusking

 

A post shared by Elaine Jones (@elainejones_1) on

Busking’s normally confined to the delights of zone 1 but it’s becoming a more common occurrence elsewhere now too. Not once have I been sat on the tube and thought, “Do you know what would really kick this journey off? Some out of tune, invasive accordion playing!”. “Oh, and also, can I pay for the privilege of being sat in a carriage, where everyone but the one tourist, who’s actually clapping along, is now making a concerted effort not to show any signs of enjoyment in fear of being accosted into popping 20p into an upturned flatcap.

16. Get on the tube when it’s full

This clip is from the subway in Tokyo, but you get the idea.

Unlike buses, the tube, for the most part, actually does come every couple of minutes. That’s why I don’t quite get when some people are so eager to get somewhere that they’d sacrifice their decency as a human being by barging their way on to an overcrowded tube that looks like it’s ready to split at the seams. Take a moment to breathe and just wait for the next tube. It won’t take long and, as you’re at the front of the queue, you’ll actually get plenty of room.

17. Walk slowly

Some people obviously can’t help being slow, so they get a free pass. But if you’re an able-bodied ditherer then expect to feel the full force of Londoners’ passive-aggressive rage.

18. Cough and sneeze

Considering how densely populated London is, and how many ill people circulate throughout the capital, it’s kind of amazing that we’re not perpetually ill with a range of coughs, colds and sniffles. When you see someone who sounds like they’re coughing up a lung, sneeze into their hands and then clasp on the hand rail, it makes you wonder whether people who wear those little face mask are on to something.

19. Touch hands on the pole

Underground Hands

There are far too many hands on this rail for my liking.

As mentioned earlier, when on the tube, keep your feet shoulders’ width apart, a slight bend in the knee and a hand on the hand rail. Sorted. But what’s this? Someone’s slid their hand down the rail and now your hands are touching. Most offenders instantly rectifying their hand positioning but this time they haven’t. One of two things has happened:

    • For whatever reason, they haven’t noticed.
    • They have noticed but have decided to keep their hand touching yours anyway, in which case you need to flee the carriage at once.

19. Not hold on to the hand rail and fall over

Oh you’re cool, you’ve mastered the art of standing on the tube without holding on to anything. You’re the Kelly Slater of the public transport world. That’s all well and good until someone’s got their bag stuck in the door, the driver slams on the breaks, and you hurtle into the nearest passenger at full force. Nice one!

20. Be drunk

We don’t know whether this is something that should be frowned upon or celebrated. It all depends on the drunkard. They can either be very entertaining or the most annoying person you’ve ever encountered. Unfortunately, 99% of the time it’s the latter. The worst is when you realise you’re drunk on the tube and are in fact “that person”.

21. Faff about at the gates

The train pulls in at busy station. What seems like thousands of people hurtle towards the gates. The first person gets there, takes out their trusty Oyster card and attempts to tap out. “Beep, beep, beep” the red light flashes, there’s a problem. They try again. “Beep, beep, beep”. At this point there is clearly an issue. Please, get out of the way so the rest of the passengers can get through. Or at least walk back a step before trying again. It won’t work if you don’t!

22. Take your shoes off

 

The tube isn’t your front room. Don’t take your shoes off. Plus, the floor is pretty grim, why would you want to?

23. Using the tube as a gym

Hand rails are there to hold onto, not hang upside from. Don’t be surprised if you fall flat on your face.

24. Heavy petting

 

Pray for him, he doesn’t have long #subwaycreatures (@hadleyyeldah) A post shared by SubwayCreatures (@subwaycreatures) on

The only footage we could find of heavy petting on the tube was too disturbing to include. This poor child illustrates the point though.

Nothing about a tube journey is romantic. It’s just a necessary evil. So no heavy petting! This is just a rule for all public outings, but the grossness is amplified by the confines of the tube.

Special round: pigeons

I’ve never seen a pigeon on the tube but a colleague swears they’ve seen it. Apparently the pigeon got agitated, on what we can only presume is its first taste of public transport, and took flight. To be fair, that sounds like hell.