There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who walk, those who run, and those who text. It’s a recipe for a traffic jam.
Utah Valley University, a school of about 30,000 students based in Orem, Utah, thinks it has a solution — designated lanes. The staircase at the school’s new student life and wellness center is carved up into three sections, one for each type of intrepid climber.
The lanes are mostly there for looks and laughs, the school’s creative director Matt Bambrough told Time. Unfortunately, “most people don’t obey the posted lanes,” he said. But Bambrough’s not the only person who thinks that texters need their own space on the sidewalk. Earlier this week the Internet was agog over a similar project in the Belgian city of Antwerp, where a mobile phone repair company had painted a narrow “text walking lane” onto several streets.
“This causes collisions with poles or other pedestrians. You could, unknowingly, even be endangering your own life while you ‘textwalk’ when you cross the street without looking up,” a spokesman told Yahoo News.
But officials in the Belgian city felt otherwise.
“Spraying alternative lines on a street as to make people believe it has an official character, can be very confusing and even lead to accidents,”Johan Vermant, press secretary for Antwerp’s mayor, told Quartz. He went on to call the lanes “a form of graffiti which is strictly forbidden in our city.”
Vermant adamantly denied reports that Belgian officials were interested in expanding the lanes. In fact, he told Quartz, Antwerp has removed the lines and will be sending Mlab the bill, along with a fine for breaking the law.
Though their attempts at text traffic control have been foiled, Mlab may be onto something. Last summer, D.C.’s own National Geographic museum drew similar lanes along a stretch of 18th street. That too was a stunt, for a series on behavioral science called “Mind over Masses.”A few months later a texters-only lane appeared in the Chinese city of Chongqing. Nong Cheng, marketing official for the company that installed the lane, told the Associated Press that it was intended to as a tongue-in-cheek reminder of the dangers of walking with your eyes on the screen.
Not that people noticed — they were too busy texting.
“Those using their cellphones of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement,” she said. “They don’t notice them.”