An American in Paris


While traveling in France, I attempted to use the metro system. Now considering I was traveling for a decent length of time, I had a fairly large bag. To get to the train platform, one must insert a very small pass into the turnstile similarly to any other underground train system. However, since I had the behemoth bag in my possession, gaining access was not this simple. On the side of gate was a graphic showing a person with a bag carrying said bag in front of them through the sealing glass gates. However when I attempted to imitate the graphic like any other good lemming, the gates promptly shut pinching my bag, my right arm, and my head on one side of the glass doors and my remaining appendages on the other. After floundering about in the mechanism for a few minutes with no station personnel in sight, another passenger finally saw my predicament, swiped her card, and ruthlessly dislodged both my bag and my pitiful self from the gates.



  • ActivitiesI would like to get to travel to the train station on the local metro train with my baggage and easily get through the gate.
  • EnvironmentsIndustrial, high traffic area, full of very busy, very quickly moving people
  • InteractionsSwipe pass for access and walk through the gates to the train
  • ObjectsThe access gates, the pass, the individual and any accoutrements they may have 
  • UsersPeople wanting to travel via the local train system that are carrying multiple items


The proposed solutions are simple. Install a singular, wider turnstile that would allow persons with bags or disabilities or even parents with small children can enter the station more easily and thus less likely to cause a backup of passengers before the gates. In addition to a wider gate, the station should be staffed with personnel to assist with any other sort of altercations that may occur and an emergency stop button should be placed within arms reach of the gates.

To prevent passengers from cheating the gate system by just pressing the emergency button and passing through the gates for free, an alarm should sound when pushed, alerting station personnel of the issue. Fines could be put in place for skipping the gates.



In designing for myself, I struggled to empathize with those running the train station and the decisions that went into the original design of the station. Did the gates need to be thin to keep people from skipping the payment booth? Is there a high volume of passengers and the thin gates help keep the flow of traffic running smoothly?

I found the most difficult part to be deciphering my own issues from those of the standard user. As a tourist, I am not as well meshed with the local culture and am unaware of the social norms of that society. Perhaps there is a social protocol in place for when people see someone lodged in the gates at their local train station and there is not usually an issue with teenagers floundering about in the mechanics.


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