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Chinese city debuts 'cell phone lane' for distracted walkers

In what's either a progressive safety move, an attention-seeking prank, or a depressing indication of the state of the world, a city in southwest China has opened a "cell phone lane" for texting pedestrians. Officials in Chongqing, China, marked off more than 100 feet of sidewalk specifically for walking wordsmiths.

Signage nearby calls the path the "first mobile sidewalk in China," and pictures reveal the painted markings on the ground that differentiate between the cell phone and non-cell phone lanes. All in all, as The Guardian noted, the spectacle resembles an experiment conducted by National Geographic Channel back in July in Washington, D.C. Indeed, Quartz notes that the lane is located in a bizarre theme park called "Foreigner Street," which is also home to the world's largest public toilet.

A marketing official with Meixin Group, the company that manages the property where the new sidewalk is located, conceded that the idea was inspired by National Geographic's experiment and the lanes are more about sending a message about our reliance on our phones than about practical implementation. "There are lots of elderly people and children in our street," Meixin's Nong Cheng told The Associated Press. "Walking with your cell phone may cause unnecessary collisions."

So, is it working so far? Perhaps predictably, distracted texters were hardly noticing their designated messaging lane. "Those using their cell phones of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement," Cheng said. "They don't notice them."