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Cellphone-Free Sidewalk Lanes: Great Idea or Greatest Idea?

Greatest idea. 


You already know about protected lanes for bicyclists. But what about setting aside part of the pavement for pedestrians who aren't glued to their smart phones?

That's the idea that a science experiment conducted by a TV crew for National Geographic tried out in Washington D.C. last week. Using chalk, the team split the sidewalk in half, with one lane dedicated to people walking while using their cells—and the other for those who had made a vow to live in the present moment, taking constant gratitude for the quiet miracle of the world (or had simply run over their plan's data limits for the month).

Though some pedestrians simply ignored the chalk markings—and others were too busy staring at their phones to pay attention—it seems that quite a few played along and sorted themselves accordingly. We can only guess at the improvements, because the results haven't been revealed yet. The outcome of the stunt will be shown when the National Geographic show, still untitled, airs later this year.

So is this a sad commentary on humans' order-following reflex? Or a brilliant new advance in urban design? Hard to say yet. But we'd be willing to say it won't be long before you see no-phone lanes spring up on Valencia or Market.

Now if we could just do something about Google Glass.


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