People sending text messages in the centre of the Belgian city of Antwerp have been provided with dedicated temporary “text walking lanes” so that they do not collide with pedestrians.
The initiative – some would say publicity stunt – is the brainchild of a smartphone store based in the city.
It says that a significant number of mobile phone breakages happen because of “text walking” collisions.
There are now believed to be more mobile phones in the world than people.
Figures released by mobile operators and associated companies show that there are about 7.5 billion mobiles in the world, compared to a world population estimated to be 7.2 billion by the US Census Bureau.
“You probably walk through the streets while texting or sending Whatsapp messages to your friends and don’t really pay attention to your surroundings – only to whatever is happening on your screen,” a spokesman for Mlab, a smart phone laboratory based in Antwerp, was quoted by Yahoo News as saying.
“This causes collisions with poles or other pedestrians. You could, unknowingly, even be endangering your own life while you ‘textwalk’ when you cross the street without looking up.”
Mlab describes itself as a concept store that carries out phone repairs, sells the latest gadgets or provides expert advice to phone users.
Although the “text walking lanes” are temporary, officials say, there is a possibility they will become permanent.