Chongqing may be one of the largest cities you’ve never heard of with a population of around 30 million. The city was once part of Sichuan province in Southwest China but was made into a direct-controlled municipality essentially turning it into its own province in 1997. Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin enjoy the same distinction. Prior to the move to autonomy, Sichuan was the most populous province in China but fell behind Henan after the move.

Chongqing City of China Opens Smartphone Sidewalk

Chongqing’s smartphone sidewalk: It’s satire?

After three years in China I’ve seen some strange happenings but this one may take the cake. Officials announced today that it will enforce a “no cell phone” lane in the entertainment district of Chongqing that reminds people of the dangers of “walking with smartphone.”

“There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cell phone may cause unnecessary collisions here,” said Nong Cheng, a spokeswoman for the district’s property management company. She did make it clear that this wasn’t a viable solution but rather a satirical way of reminding people that it’s just not safe.

The idea may have been born by an American television show. In July, producers of the National Geographic show “Mind Over Masses” began marking sidewalks in Washington D.C in order to film people’s reactions.

“No cellphones,” said lettering on one side of the sidewalk. “Cellphones,” the other lane said. “Walk at your own risk.”

Accidents on the rise

While the idea might sound absurd, walking accidents based on smartphone use exist. In 2008, the U.K. wrapped padding around signposts and telephone poles based on people walking into them.

Earlier this year, the University of Buffalo released a study showing the rise in accidents caused by walking and texting that included people falling down stairs and walking into traffic.

“When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking,” says Jehle, MD, who is also an attending physician at Erie County Medical Center, a regional trauma center in Western New York. “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”

Wow we’ve come along ways forward and backwards at the same time.