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China opens a footpath for people glued to their phones

One can finally check Instagram without being distracted by oncoming cars.

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Xi'an's first walking lane for phone addicts.

Mingtiandi

For some, mobile phone addiction might be a bad thing. The city of Xi'an, meanwhile, has embraced it.

Over the weekend, pedestrians in the northern Chinese city could walk, phone in hand and head down, along a new footpath dedicated to just that, reports Inquirer.net.

The Yanta Road footpath, opened by a shopping mall, is reportedly 100 metres long and 80 centimetres wide, providing ample space for phone-using pedestrians. It's marked by an image of a phone and the word "Cellphones" while the lane beside it, for boring people interested in real life, has an image of the phone crossed out.

Like China's first "phone lane" introduced in Chongqing in 2014, the new one aims to address safety. According to the report, security personnel were required too often to steer drivers away from the pavement filled with distracted pedestrians.

This might draw a smile from those outside the country, but the US experimented with a similar lane in 2014: a split footpath for phone and non-phone using pedestrians opened in Washington DC, part of a social experiment by the National Geographic TV channel.