I voted for “a ride, but…” although I’d have preferred to have the option of “a moving staircase, but…”. I much prefer to walk up the escalator, but I have no problem with people standing, as long as they stand to the right. I generally only stand when I’m carrying a bag, and in that case, the bag is either in front of or behind me, and both the bag and I are as far to the right as we can get without dragging on the side. I’m also marginally less inclined to walk *down *an escalator, because I find it slightly disorienting. In that case I’m more likely to search for the stairs if I have time (which brings me to the point that the stairs are not always near the escalator, for all those people who say “just take the stairs”).
Of course, 98% of the time that I’m on an escalator, it’s at a train station, and IMO the rules are different than they are at the mall. The train station is not a destination. Everyone there is there because they need to get somewhere else, and many of those people are in a hurry.