We’ve all walked into a lamppost while being too engrossed in our smartphone screens before (right? Come on guys…) so it was only a matter of time before measures were taken.
So guess what? Leave it to the Chinese to be the progenitors of an idea. The city of Chongqing is the first in the world to introduce slow-walking lanes for those who just can’t let go of their handheld virtual reality pits.
Although no anecdotal evidence of frustrated commuters slaloming between slack-jawed ‘net-watchers in the city exists, it must have been a big enough problem in the first place to warrant a solution.
And so as a consequence, the city is now in possession of two 100-foot lanes painted into the pavement, allowing users and non-users alike to share space without the threat of tech-based civil unrest breaking out.
While Chinese authorities are playing the move off as a friendly reminder that “it is best not to play with your phone while walking”, smartphone addiction is turning into a serious problem for the world’s most populous nation.
A survey by Zhaophin, a Chinese recruitment agency, recorded that 80% of over 10,000 people surveyed admitted that their addiction is “severe”. For a country infamous for its restriction of Internet access to its citizens, that’s no mean feat.
Although the Chinese were the first to roll it out officially, the idea was first trialled in Washington D.C. by National Geographic earlier this year. According to reports at the time, the biggest effect was seen in pedestrians taking their phones out to snap pictures of the divide. Most of those using their phones in the street ignored the lanes altogether since they were so engrossed. That’s a textbook definition of “defeating the purpose” right there.
In a somewhat similar move, Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, England, introduced lanes for fast and slow walkers earlier this year after a 10-year-old girl wrote in complaining about being constantly held up.
In a move that should surely bring a smile to anyone who doesn’t like gathering dust while out and about, those who choose to move fast or let the world pass them by have finally been segregated. No longer will you have fantasies of punching a zombie-like walker in the back of the head while you shop, which kinda takes the fun away from the experience in some respects.
In a letter to the shopping centre bosses, Chloe Nash-Lowe wrote: “It annoys me so much I want to scream. People are in a rush for work and this can cause people to be late. It is dangerous because if someone bumped into you the person that is slow will fall over.”
Whoever works at Meadowhall’s press office should receive a handsome bonus this Christmas after the news went viral. Whether walking slow or fast results in more shopping has yet to be discovered. One step at a time though, hey? Just make sure they’re quick ones and you haven’t got your phone out.