Don’t Look Up: Would Traffic Signals in the Pavement Protect NYC Phone Gazers?

Posted On Fri, April 29, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, April 29, 2016 By In City Living, ideas from abroad, Technology

We’ve already seen the creation of texting lanes for smartphone addicts (in Antwerp, Belgium and Chongqing, China) so pedestrians don’t have to be stuck behind someone hunting for the perfect emoji. Recently the German city of Augsburg has taken the step of actually installing traffic lights in the pavement so text-walkers could be made aware of when it’s unsafe to walk–by which we mean they’re about to walk into the path of a 50-ton train. The idea came about after a 15-year-old girl was fatally hit by an oncoming tram while wearing headphones and looking down at her smartphone.

As reported in The Telegraph, the lights look like ordinary road markers, but flat to the ground. Bavarian public-works/transportation provider Stadtwerke Augsburg has installed the experimental earthbound traffic signals in two rail stations. The LED lights blink green when it’s safe to walk and red when a train is approaching. They’re visible from a distance, so they might even give pedestrians some lead time to realize an intersection is up ahead.

Pavement Traffic Lights Texting 2
Photo: Thomas Hosemann/SWA

According to a survey of six European capitals, 17 percent of pedestrians use their smartphones in road traffic (or at least that’s how many will admit it in a survey). It is, as we know, a growing issue on the streets of New York City as well, and in-pavement traffic signals might not be a bad idea–since we’ve all at least seen someone nearly get creamed by something on wheels while staring down at a smartphone. Of course, text-walkers might not notice the street signals either, as was the case for a few citizens approached for their opinion on them by the press.


Demonstrating the new Bavarian traffic signals; it’s in German but the visuals get the point across.

Antwerp’s text walking lanes, like the ones in China and similar ones in Washington, D.C., have been quasi-humor/art projects meant to poke fun at smartphone zombies. But with the number of pedestrians’ cell phone-related injuries rising by 35 percent within the last five years, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hit by a train.

[Via Telegraph]

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