The proliferation of smartphones has led to a global pandemic: Folks are often too distracted by their handsets to properly navigate crowded sidewalks. One Chinese city, however, may have found a way to curb the frustrating issue.
A 10-by-164-foot-long segment of pavement in the Yangrenjie Scenic Spot in Chongqing has been cordoned off for use as the country’s first “mobile phone sidewalk.”
Designated by white paint markings on the ground, one side is meant strictly for cell phone users—who can talk, text, swerve, and walk at fluctuating speeds—while the other allows others to maneuver through the area unencumbered by tech addicts.
A posted sign warns mobile users to “walk in this lane at your own risk,” China Daily reported.
A similar experiment launched this summer in Washington, D.C., where the National Geographic Channel marked the capital city’s sidewalks with two lanes, one reading “No cellphones,” the other phone-friendly side suggesting that people “Walk at your own risk.”
The labels ran for about a block on Washington’s 18th Street, and were placed there as part of a behavioral test, filmed for the Nat Geo Channel’s Mind Over Masses series.
According to the Associated Press, many pedestrians simply ignored the designations, while some took photos of the signage. The city of Chongqing, however, hopes for better results.
It’s not exactly uncommon for people to find themselves in compromising, embarrassing positions because their nose was buried in a smartphone. But not everyone is a fan of being forced to choose a side.
“Setting up special sidewalks could be a solution for reducing security problems in particular situations,” Chinese actor Xing Xing told China Daily. “But this kind of sidewalk is not a fundamental solution and could be an indulgence for mobile phone addicts in the long run … and this could even lead to more problems in the future.”
Those sentiments spilled over into ridicule on China’s micro-blogging site Weibo, where users questioned the scheme, asking “Am I supposed to jump to the other side of the path when I get an incoming phone call?”
“Maybe they can even build one traffic lane especially for drunk drivers in the future,” another one quipped, as reported by BBC News.
With an estimated 500 million-plus smartphone users in China this year, local authorities are more concerned about the short-term effects. And they appear to have plenty of support.
“In my mind, these sidewalks help a lot in minimizing security risks for mobile phone addicts,” resident Wang Li told China Daily.
As the BBC pointed out, however, Chongqing’s experiment appears to have created a new issue: pedestrian congestion as folks stop to take photos of the novelty sidewalk.
Source: PC Mag
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