Back in April, Northeastern University published an article on their website claiming that the campus would implement “text-and-walk” lanes on their pathways in order to allow students to safely use their phones while walking. In today’s day and age, it seemed like a very real possibility, but anyone caught believing it felt pretty silly when they remembered the calendar was still on April 1.
I was one of those fools. But in the three-plus months since that day, the idea has actually grown on me—after all, most of us are more tuned in to our phone than our immediate surroundings, so why not be safe while doing it?
Well, the National Geographic Channel decided to really put it to the test. They went to Washington, D.C. to shoot their new show, “Mind Over Masses,” and set up a one-block stretch of sidewalk with two lanes: one labeled “No Cellphones” and the other labeled “Cellphones. Walk at your own risk.”
Unfortunately, the test didn’t do much to change traffic patterns. The Associated Press reported that most people ignored the lanes or, at most, stopped to take a picture before proceeding. One woman even said she “noticed the markings” but went back to looking at her phone and eventually drifted into the no cellphones lane.
That’s certainly not encouraging, but testing it over just one block probably won’t yield any substantial results. An entire city needs to step up and give this idea a shot, and Boston is a perfectly good candidate. It might seem like a waste of time and money, but Northeastern put it out there as a joke and plenty of people thought it was real, so why not?
Besides, think about the last time you got stuck behind someone texting, and tell me they didn’t deserve to be banished to the edge of the sidewalk. At this point, there are enough of those people that they deserve their own lane. Make it happen, Marty.