# How much effort?

C J Horse
Posers and Puzzles 27 Aug '12 17:31
1. C J Horse
A stable personality
27 Aug '12 17:31
At my local supermarket, there is a side exit leading to a separate public car park. This consists of a flat stretch of around 20 metres, followed by 16 small steps. Parallel to this there is a wheelchair slope, starting at the same point and rising consistently, leading to the same level as the top of the steps. I find it surprising that so many able-bodied people choose to use the slope rather than the steps. Is there really any difference in the amount of effort required? Surely you ultimately have to raise your bodyweight and anything you are carrying the same distance whether using the steps or ramp? Please try to make any answers intelligible to a non-scientist.
2. joe shmo
Strange Egg
27 Aug '12 22:56
Originally posted by C J Horse
At my local supermarket, there is a side exit leading to a separate public car park. This consists of a flat stretch of around 20 metres, followed by 16 small steps. Parallel to this there is a wheelchair slope, starting at the same point and rising consistently, leading to the same level as the top of the steps. I find it surprising that so many able-bodi ...[text shortened]... whether using the steps or ramp? Please try to make any answers intelligible to a non-scientist.
Yeah, the same amount of work is done in either case (as far as change in gravitational potential) but, from what I can surmise, the stairs probably require more power, due to the exagerated mechanics of the stepping motion and that generally the stairs will be steeper than the ramp ( which means that even neglecting mechanics of the exagerated step motion, if you were to traverse them in the same unit of time the stairs would require you to chnge your potential energy at a greater rate.
3. AThousandYoung
All My Soldiers...
28 Aug '12 18:03
Thought experiment - what if the "steps" were one giant step?

Wouldn't that be more difficult than a ramp?
4. wolfgang59
28 Aug '12 19:50
Originally posted by C J Horse
At my local supermarket, there is a side exit leading to a separate public car park. This consists of a flat stretch of around 20 metres, followed by 16 small steps. Parallel to this there is a wheelchair slope, starting at the same point and rising consistently, leading to the same level as the top of the steps. I find it surprising that so many able-bodi ...[text shortened]... whether using the steps or ramp? Please try to make any answers intelligible to a non-scientist.
The energy required is the same however many smaller steps (or a slope) would in theory make it easier than fewer bigger steps.

Its akin to cycling up a hill in 1st gear or 5th gear.
5. Kewpie
since 1-Feb-07
29 Aug '12 00:34
Nothing to do with energy requirements, but our medical media tell us that steps are bad for knees, and with so many of our contemporaries needing knee replacements I wouldn't be surprised if they're simply avoiding that possibility.
6. wolfgang59
29 Aug '12 01:27
Originally posted by Kewpie
Nothing to do with energy requirements, but our medical media tell us that steps are bad for knees, and with so many of our contemporaries needing knee replacements I wouldn't be surprised if they're simply avoiding that possibility.
Precusely.
many low impacts are less harma few high impacts
7. 07 Sep '12 00:57
I have sciatica and though I usually walk without probs, steps can be just a bit harder some days.
8. 10 Sep '12 07:05
Originally posted by C J Horse
At my local supermarket, there is a side exit leading to a separate public car park. This consists of a flat stretch of around 20 metres, followed by 16 small steps. Parallel to this there is a wheelchair slope, starting at the same point and rising consistently, leading to the same level as the top of the steps. I find it surprising that so many able-bodi ...[text shortened]... whether using the steps or ramp? Please try to make any answers intelligible to a non-scientist.
Falls are more common on steps (down, especially) than on a ramp. no matter how able bodied you are. Ask again in 50 years., ask yourself, even if you are able bodied.
9. AThousandYoung
All My Soldiers...
19 Sep '12 22:44
Stairs take up less space than ramps.
10. forkedknight
Defend the Universe
20 Sep '12 16:22
Originally posted by AThousandYoung
Stairs take up less space than ramps.
That depends on how steep your ramp is, and how tall your stairs are ðŸ™‚
11. AThousandYoung
All My Soldiers...
20 Sep '12 19:41
Originally posted by forkedknight
That depends on how steep your ramp is, and how tall your stairs are ðŸ™‚
Any ramp that can take up the space of a typical set of stairs will be really uncomfortable to walk on. Can you imagine climbing up a 45 degree ramp? That's gotta be more difficult than going up stairs where you can rest on flat ground whenever you want.
12. sonhouse
Fast and Curious
28 Sep '12 18:461 edit
Originally posted by AThousandYoung
Any ramp that can take up the space of a typical set of stairs will be really uncomfortable to walk on. Can you imagine climbing up a 45 degree ramp? That's gotta be more difficult than going up stairs where you can rest on flat ground whenever you want.
So what is the accepted angle of a ramp? Compared to a 45 degree stair run?

Or a 30 degree stair run? Is there a legal definition of what a ramp needs to be for wheelchair use?

I noticed here in Allentown Pa, there is a new roadway overpass for pedestrians going over our Rte 22, which goes east-west through town. The strange thing I noticed was a very long convoluted ramp presumably for wheelchairs, a series of switchbacks, at least 5 of them. But there is no provision for those of us not needing ramps making for a very long walk for everyone.
13. 07 Oct '12 10:41
There is a flat section of about 20 metres followed by 16 steps. Assuming the steps cover a horizontal distance of 4 metres and rise at 45 degrees then the ramp will be rising at approx 9-10 degrees. The energy expended in both cases (stairs and ramp) is the same but the stairs expend this energy over a shorter period, so more effort. You could make the effort for walking up the ramp even less by zig-zagging up it. Personally i prefer stairs. I find that not having the soles of your feet horizontal when in contact with the ground too uncomfortable. Particularly walking down.