You’ve seen them. You’ve tried to get around them. You’re probably one of them.
In a world where there are more mobile phones than people, it’s become commonplace to find folks paying more attention to what’s on their phones than what’s in front of them on the street. These so-called “text-walkers” are often a nuisance to other pedestrians as well as a danger to themselves (and their precious phones). A smart solution to this problem has appeared on the sidewalks of Antwerp, Belgium in the form of “text walking lanes.” These lanes, marked by simple white lines painted onto the sidewalk, designate a separate walking space for people who use their phones while walking.
Belgian mobile repair shop Mlab has taken credit for the lanes. In a statement to Yahoo News a spokesperson for the company commented, “You probably walk through the streets while texting or sending WhatsApp messages to your friends and don’t really pay attention to your surroundings—only to whatever is happening on your screen.” Nonetheless, Mlab only meant for the text-walking lanes to be a marketing stunt aimed to remind text-walking pedestrians to visit the repair shop if their multi-tasking ever leads them to breaking their phones.
Antwerp isn’t the only city concerned about its text-walkers. Last year, a National Geographic TV crew filming “Mind Over Masses” devised a similar stunt in Washington DC, splitting the sidewalks into “cell phones-friendly” and “cell phones-free” lanes. Soon after that, the pathways were replicated along a scenic route in Chongqing, China. Most recently, Utah Valley University has divided one campus staircase into three lanes: walk, run, and text.
So far, these text walking lanes have only been jokes; however, with the number of pedestrians’ cell phone related injuries rising by 35 percent within the last five years, making text walking lanes a permanent feature might not be a bad idea. We have a feeling Patrick Stewart would be on board.
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Photos by boredpanda