Philadelphia 'Texting Lane' Serves as Prank with a Message

By Steve Anderson April 02, 2012

With April Fools' Day now passed into memory, one particular joke has lingered on as a potential discussion tool and topic to be addressed for one major American city. The City of Philadelphia added a set of lines to the sidewalks in front of City Hall, specifically for those distracted by text messaging and other forms of digital communication.

The texting lanes – dubbed "e-lanes" by the City of Philadelphia – are marked in standard lane-marking style featuring a stylized human staring into a small slip of white in the white space where a human hand should be. The lines run along parts of Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Boulevard, and are set to remain there for the better part of this week. They were even given promotional video treatment as Mayor Michael Nutter delivered a video address about them. He was quickly cut off by a second pedestrian engrossed in the display on his portable device. The distracted gent was played by Steven Buckley, deputy commissioner of the Streets Department.

The "e-lanes," and their promotion, are a small prank, appropriate to the season, but with an unexpected note of seriousness; distracted pedestrians are reportedly a serious problem in Philadelphia, one that the city is planning to address, possibly beyond the mock commercials and the comical pavement markings.

While distracted driving is a widely-acknowledged problem, mainly because it's significantly more dangerous, it's a bit more difficult to consider distracted walking as anything more than a minor annoyance. But considering that a pedestrian is hit by a car, on average, once every four hours in the City of Philadelphia, it may be substantially more of a problem than first thought, according to Mayor Nutter.

How far the City of Philadelphia will go with this remains to be seen, but one thing is quite clear: Philadelphia clearly has its residents' best interests at heart. Whether a campaign to snuff out distracted walking will be successful, or even worthwhile, will depend largely on those pedestrians themselves.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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