Utah Valley University may be blazing a trail for urban planners everywhere by giving students glued to their smartphones a designated lane for texting while walking.
The school painted neon green lanes on the stairs to the gym in an effort that was originally intended as a lighthearted way to brighten up the space and get students’ attention, said spokeswoman Melinda Colton.
The effort worked extremely well, with a picture of the lanes creating widespread buzz on social media after it was posted online.
While the lanes are just in the school’s recreation center, 22-year-old student Tasia Briggs wouldn’t mind seeing them deployed across campus.
“There’s nothing worse than walking behind someone who’s texting, and you can’t get around them and go anywhere,” Briggs said. Smartphone messaging is increasingly a big part of how the younger generations communicate, leading to new issues for building and city planners.
Student Chelsea Meza, 22, said “it’s kind of funny. You walk down the hallway and instead of saying hi, everyone is walking and texting,” she said.
While new to America the dedicated lanes have been tried elsewhere in the world.
The Chinese city of Chongqing created a smartphone sidewalk lane that served as a reminder to people that staring at phones while on the go can be extremely dangerous, especially in cities with cars and buses.
While the lanes may seem funny or be used to get attention, they may end up being used to both manage congestion and avoid accidents. Most major cities already heavily use dedicated lanes for cyclists and its not a stretch to think that the concept could be applied to sidewalks, especially in high traffic or particularly dangerous areas.