China's First Mobile Phone Only Sidewalk Puts Smartphone Users In Their Place

Tired of accidents caused by self-absorbed texters, tweeters and Facebook status updaters? Hey, who isn't? The Chinese city of Chongqing decided enough is enough, installing a segregated mobile phone-only sidewalk along a portion of popular Yangren Street.

The idea was inspired by a pilot project conducted earlier this summer in Washington, D.C. by National Geographic as part of a city-sanctioned behavioral science study.

That's right, the cellphone right-of-way's stenciled lanes and markers weren't for the benefit of smartphone users (or those they inconvenience) at all. Instead, both the lanes and those who used them were mere props; the results of their interaction to be featured in an upcoming TV series called Mind Over Masses.

Once filming was completed over the course of a single day, the stencils (shown above) were erased. Not so in Chongqing where authorities seem to have missed the point and purpose of the NatGeo exercise. Indeed, the Chinese city's stencils and signage appear to be permanent and the city's smartphone users are expected to comply.

They're not, of course, and it's not all their fault: the lanes are positioned between the “normal” sidewalk and busy Yangren Street (not ideal for distracted pedestrians) and the stenciled instructions are too specific... people focused on their smartphone screens won't even notice the line of arrows they're supposed to follow.

Full props for good intentions, Chongqing, and hopefully those signs & stencils didn't cost too much taxpayer's money. (via Shanghaiist, NBD, and Greater Greater Washington)