China’s No-Cellphone Pavement Lane Won’t Work, But That’s Why It Works

If a few lines on the pavement can teach us how to be a bit more mindful when dawdling along with a phone, then they've worked, right?


by Sophie Wilkinson |

Do you ever get that feeling of seething anger when you’re stuck walking behind a slow walker who’s dawdling along on their phone? Well, China’s got a solution for that. The country isn’t going to ban phone users from whacking out their soon-to-be face-sized phones in public, but one city is trying to ensure people tapping away on their babble boxes don’t hold any normal-paced walkers up by dividing an 100ft stretch of road into ‘cellphones’ and ‘no cellphones’.

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A sign at the end of the road in Chongqing reads, ‘First mobile phone sidewalks [sic] in China,’ and the two parts of the pavement are separated by a white painted line. It’s hard to tell whether the cellphone/no cellphone lanes will take off, especially when dawdling phone-obsessives might just spend all of their time bumping into each other and meandering over into the no cellphone lane. But even if the result is one clogged up lane full of people tripping up over each other, maybe people will soon realise that as portable as phones might be, it’s always a lot quicker to walk around without your phone out. That’s what Chinese officials say, at least: ‘It is best not to play with your phone while walking,’ is the official party line.

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And as silly as the demarcation of separate lanes for phone users might be, (and this is a direct copy of an experiment done by National Georgraphic in Washington DC in July, reports The Guardian) it’s a great reminder that you wouldn’t walk along with a paper in your hand (not without face-planting onto a lamp-post), so why would you stroll around with a phone in your hands?

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In the meantime, there are some other lanes we’d like to see over here. Smelly people lanes would be located in most downwind sections of the pavement – it’s never nice getting a gust of the unwashed when you’re trying to get from A to B. Tourist lanes would be enforced with cages around them to stop people from pointing something out, full-armed, in the middle of a peaceful walker’s path. Children would also be given their own lane, where they can scoot along as if the whole scooter fad wasn’t entirely done by the mid-2000s. Oh, and as for blokes who think it’s OK to catcall women on the street? They get their own lane, just on the opposite side of the road, the bit right next to the gutter.

We’ve requested them – now China, go make them…

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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