And finally… World’s first mobile texting lane for ‘zombie pedestrians’ opens in China

The Chinese city of Chongqing has created a “mobile phone lane” on a stretch of pavement, offering a path for those seemingly too engrossed in messaging and other activity on their phones to pay close attention to where they are going.

However, the city’s property manager says the move is intended to be ironic, reminding people that it is dangerous to become too entranced by what they are doing on their handsets while walking.

“There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your mobile phone may cause unnecessary collisions here,” said Nong Cheng, a marketing official with Meixin Group, which manages the area in the city’s entertainment zone.

Meixin has marked a 50m stretch of pavement with two lanes: one that prohibits mobile phone use next to one that allows pedestrians to use them at their “own risk”.

Ms Nong said the idea came from a similar stretch of pavement on 18th Street in Washington DC, which was created by National Geographic Television in July as part of a short behavioural experiment. Pedestrians’ reactions were filmed for a television series called Mind Over Masses.

Taking a cue from the US programme, the signage and road markings used in Chongqing bear a striking resemblance to those used in US capital. Ms Nong said pedestrians were not taking the new lanes seriously but many were snapping pictures of the signs and the pavement – creating a further problem of congestion, and the potential for further collisions as crowds of people stop to take pictures next to the new additions to the street. “Those using their mobiles of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement,” she said. “They don’t notice them.”

Chongqing, in south-west China, is the country’s third-largest “megacity”.

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