Are Cellphone Sidewalk Lanes The Way Of The Future?

When you’re walking down your street, what do you see? Stop signs, street lights, buildings, (I hope) some trees, and yes, of course, a ton of people with their eyeballs glued to their phone screens who are probably going to bump into you (and if YOU also have both your eyeballs glued to your phone screen, they’re DEFINITELY going to bump into you).

So what’s to be done re: this worldwide epidemic of the Walking Texters? (Does this work as a play on words of The Walking Dead? If not, whatever, I tried, you always got to try when a pun is a possibility.) You build an ENTIRE SEPARATE LANE for people who are too obsessed with their phones to walk properly. Or at least that’s what they did in Chongqing, a city in southwestern China, on one of their busiest streets.

Chongqing’s city developers based their “cellphone lane” on a recent experiment conducted in Washington D.C. in which National Geographic blocked out a lane for cellphone users as a social experiment to see how the public would react. The quick version? Most people did not alter their course once they noticed the separate lanes, but a lot of people with their phones snatched them out to take pictures of the lane, and most people who were actually on their phones didn’t even notice the lane markings.

Now China has taken the social experiment and made it, like, an actual part of their urban planning. Though there aren’t currently plans to expand this kind of lane to other sidewalks in the city, there seems to be a pretty darn good reason to have them in the first place. It’s estimated that the number of people using smartphones will exceed 500 million this year. And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, that is more than ONE AND A HALF times the population of the United States. That is the United States plus another HALF of itself all walking around texting and playing the Kim Kardashian Hollywood game and not paying attention to the other people on the street. No wonder they put in a cellphone lane on this one street. I’m kind of surprised there aren’t currently big plans to put cellphone lanes on every street in, like, the world.

Not everyone is down with Cellphone Avenue though. Chongqing pedestrian Xing Xing told China Daily, “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.”

I’m picking up what Xing Xing is laying down, but I still think cellphone lanes aren’t the worst idea in the world ever. After all, mobile phone addicts don’t really NEED anything to encourage them to be on their phones all the time. They just DO it and if you try to get between an addict and her game of Words With Friends, just be prepared to have a gypsy curse placed upon you and all future generations of your family. Just hustling them all over to one side of the road actually seems like a pretty brills way to not have to deal with smartphone junkies who can’t even put their phones away to, you know, walk.