It is not uncommon to see people bumping into others or wandering off the sidewalks into traffic while glued to their smartphones. Considering the growing number of “slow” walkers on the road, a city in China allotted “texting lanes” for those who cannot get hands off their phones. Chongqing, a bustling metro city with about 30 million people, unveiled the “texting lane” last week. There is nothing fancy about the lane though. It is just a 165-foot-sidewalk divided into two painted lanes – each for a texting pedestrian and a normal traveler.
One part of the divided lane has “Cellphones, walk in this lane at your own risk” painted on it in white letters, while the adjoining lane reads “No cellphones.”
“Walking with your cell phone may cause unnecessary collisions,” Nong Cheng, a spokesperson for Meixin – the local property firm that created the lanes – told the Associated Press.
Locals have called the move to allocate texting lanes ludicrous and the issue became a hot topic on China’s social media website Weibo.
“Is the goal here to encourage still more people to use their cellphones while walking?” one user was quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s such a lazy design. Shouldn’t the cellphone lane be placed [farther from the road]? It is not practical at all,” another added.
Some even mocked at the idea saying that the city should dedicate a separate road for drunk drivers in that case. Another scoffed at the concept asking if he should jump over to the next lane if he got an incoming call, according to Tech Times. But, the company noted that the whole motive of dividing the lane was to draw attention to the dangers of texting while walking. According to the Realtor Mag, Meixin was inspired to take up the project after they saw a TV program on National Geographic that took up a similar stance in Washington D.C. And in both experiments, cell phone users did not take the correct lane.
“Setting up special sidewalks could be a solution for reducing security problems in particular situations. But this kind of sidewalk is not a fundamental solution and could be an indulgence for mobile phone addicts in the long run in my mind – and this could even lead to more problems in the future,” Xing Xing, a Chinese native, told China Daily.
Several studies have pointed out the risk of texting while walking with some noting that while drunk driving or texting while driving cause more severe injuries, there are far too many accidents occurring due to distracted pedestrians.
“When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking,” Dietrich Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at the university, explained to Tech Times. “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”