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Culture

City in China tests sidewalk lane for cell phone users

Chongqing thinks it might be a good idea if those who permanently look down could be separated from anyone else. But is there anyone else?

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The inspiration for Chongqing's cell phone lanes was this experiment in Washington, DC. Local 15/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Have you ever watched someone walk down the street, staring into their cell phones and thought: "I'll just let them walk into me just for fun."

I tried it in New York and found it had its amusements.

Over time, though, it's all become a touch unbearable. It isn't just that cell phone obsessives can't see where they're going. It's that they arrogantly believe you should get out of their way.

One city in China has decided that it should give them the same privileges accorded to that other fine group of the self-righteous: cyclists.

Chongqing is dedicating a sidewalk lane specifically for those whose noses are in their cell phones. As CNN reports, the lanes are adorned with warning signs on the pavement.

The lane measures 3 meters across and is 50 meters long. This is surely not enough, as I'm surprised the Olympics hasn't already replaced the 1,500 meters steeplechase with the 1,500 meters cell phone chase.

CNN quoted a spokeswoman for the developer of the lane as saying the inspiration was an experiment in Washington, DC, for a National Geographic TV show in which few people seemed to actually notice the lane at all.

Oddly, the spokeswoman also said that the lane was a reminder to tourists (and there are a few cities in which tourists should surely have these lanes, whether they're clutching cell phones or not).

This incites a couple of thoughts. First, aren't these lanes redundant? Doesn't everyone walk down the streets staring at their phones these days? Aren't we all entirely mindless of other humans?

Second, who is to say that all these cell phone users will walk at the same pace anyway? Won't they still walk into each other and offer no excuse whatsoever?

The cell phone is an incurable disease. No amount of attempted regulation will prevent this human catastrophe.

Well, until everyone's walking down the street staring at their Apple Watches, that is.