Phone-Only Sidewalk Lanes Keep Texters in Line
By Sonia Weiser
The product of a guerilla marketing campaign by smartphone company MLab, Belgium's new “text walking lanes” are an attempt to keep distracted pedestrians from bumping into the rest of us. The manufacturer, of course, claims it created the texting-only lanes in Antwerp as a means of protecting people’s phones from damages caused by pedestrian collisions.
Similar lanes were painted in "Foreigner Street," a theme park located in the Chinese city of Chongqing, and last summer, the Nat Geo show Mind Over Masses painted lanes in Washington D.C. as part of a behavioral experiment.
As joyous as it would be to speed down sidewalks without having to brake for distracted texters, it’s unlikely that the separate lanes will have any impact. Mainly because the texters won’t notice.
When Nat Geo observed pedestrians' interactions with the new lanes, they found that the people on their phones generally didn’t see the lanes—or if they did, they viewed them as nothing more than an Instagram opp, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to gawk or take a picture.
But perhaps the biggest problem with phone-only lanes is that people who text on the go have trouble walking in straight lines. So even if a texter is careful to enter into the appropriate lane, more likely than not, he or she will swerve right out of it again.
Instead of painting separate lanes, one town in New Jersey has gone the extra mile to curb this technological epidemic. In 2012, Fort Lee banned texting while walking, and now fines violators a whopping $85.
[h/t Bored Panda]