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Using your smartphone? Stay in your lane!

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Forget D.C.’s bike lanes and the prospect of bus lanes in the city. The hot topic today is “smartphone lanes” for walkers. We’ve all seen them — those folks stopped in the middle of the sidewalk reading or trying to walk and text at the same time.

A city in China, Chongqing, has introduced a 165-foot-stretch of pavement where people can choose between a normal sidewalk and one reserved for smartphone users. The new sidewalk lane could potentially reduce collisions between pedestrians who walk distracted by their mobile devices and others, such as the elderly and children.

My colleague, Rick Noack reports that the idea came out of an experiment by National Geographic Television, here in Washington, and is meant to raise awareness about the lack of attention many smartphone users pay to traffic and other pedestrians.

That lack of attention, of course, is not exclusive to China.  Walking along D.C. sidewalks, it isn’t unusual to bump into fellow pedestrians who have their eyes glued to their  phones.  And the problem of distracted walking has transportation officials worried, as research suggests that each year tens of thousands of pedestrians are sent to the hospital as a result of an incident involving someone texting while walking on a street.

So, are smartphone sidewalk lanes next in the District? Tell us what you think in the comments section.