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Sidewalk with 'smartpath' for phone users

WATCH YOUR STEP: This sidewalk in Chongqing is divided into two pathways - one for those using mobile phones, and the other for those who don't. The 3m wide and 50m long sidewalk was built in the Yangrenjie Scenic Spot.


    Sep 16, 2014

    Sidewalk with 'smartpath' for phone users


    THE smartphone is no longer an accessory; for many, it is a must-have item to cope with daily living these days.

    But could special lanes also become a must-have for those who can't peel their eyes away from their handsets, even when they are on the move?

    The authorities in Chongqing appear to think so, with the Chinese city introducing the country's first "mobile-phone sidewalk". The sidewalk - 3m wide and 50m long - was built in the municipality's Yangrenjie Scenic Spot.

    It separates pedestrians along two pathways. One is for those who walk and use their mobile phone at the same time; the other is for those who don't.

    A warning sign proclaims: "Cellphones: Walk in this lane at your own risk."

    The sidewalk proved a hit with tourists, who took photos of it. But many locals did not comply with the regulation, and someone even parked a car on the sidewalk.

    "These sidewalks help a lot in minimising security risks for mobile-phone addicts," said Wang Li, a local resident who doesn't use a mobile phone often.

    Cases of mobile-phone users being injured while using their devices and ignoring their surroundings have been reported by local media.

    Li Zhijiang, a 20-year-old college student from Guizhou, regarded the sidewalk as great progress.

    "I knew there were such sidewalks in Washington's central business district, which are very necessary for the addicts, especially in the busy streets," the student said.

    In Washington DC, a "no cellphone" lane was marked on a sidewalk for a social experiment in a TV show, technology site CNet reported in July. It was supposed to separate pedestrians who used their phones while walking from those who did not.

    Anthony Edwards, a 28-year-old actor from England, was enthusiastic about the Chinese phone lane, saying it was an improvement over his home country.

    "In England, we don't have this kind of sidewalk," he said.

    However, his Chinese colleague, Xing Xing, thought the sidewalk was "pointless", but addeed grudgingly: "Setting up special sidewalks could be a solution for reducing security problems in particular situations.

    "But this kind of sidewalk is not a fundamental solution and could be an indulgence for mobile-phone addicts in the long run - and this could even lead to more problems in the future."

    With the increasing popularity of smartphones, more young people in China are becoming glued to them, a phenomenon that worries many experts. It is estimated that the number of smartphone users in China will exceed 500 million this year.