Watch your step! Mobile phone-lane opens in Chongqing for smartphone addicts

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 September, 2014, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 September, 2014, 5:44pm

A dedicated pedestrian lane for people on their mobile phones has been opened in Chongqing, offering a path for those too engrossed in texting or gaming to watch where they're going.

The property manager responsible said the walkway is intended to be ironic – to remind people that it’s dangerous to tweet while walking the street.

“There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cellphone may cause unnecessary collisions here,” said Nong Cheng, a marketing official with Meixin Group, which manages the area in the city’s entertainment zone.

Meixin has marked a 50-meter stretch of pavement with two lanes: one that prohibits cellphone use next to one that allows pedestrians to use them – at their “own risk.”

Nong said the idea came from a similar stretch of pavement in Washington DC created by National Geographic Television in July as part of a behaviour experiment.

She said that pedestrians were not taking the new lanes seriously, but that many were snapping pictures of the signs and pavement.

“Those using their cellphones of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement,” she said. “They don’t notice them.”

As well as the potential for accidents caused by pedestrians not looking where they're going, mobile phone use can cause other problems. In February, the Hong Kong government asked the MTR Corporation to study measures to ease the crush on rush-hour trains, caused in part by passengers needing more room to maneuver their various devices. 

The Transport and Housing Bureau said the use of mobile gadgets meant that capacity should be calculated based on a maximum of four passengers per square metre instead of six. 

MTR safety announcements were changed in late 2013 to add a warning to commuters "not to keep your eyes only on your mobile phone".