Does Vancouver Need "No Cellphone" Sidewalk Lanes?


Should Vancouver’s busy sidewalks be divided up to accommodate those who use cellphones and those who are truly hands-free?

A sidewalk in Washington, D.C. recently was painted to indicate two distinct lanes: One for those who choose to walk and talk–or text, Tinder swipe, Facebook post, Instagram, Tweet, or Yelp-and those who can manage to keep their cellphones in their pockets.

While this might seem like a brilliant idea to many (most likely those who have been elbowed, head-butted, or stepped on by people lost in smartphoneland), it actually isn’t something America’s capital city is implementing. Turns out the lanes were only there for a day earlier this month for a National Geographic Channel show called “Mind Over Masses.”

The show’s crew had permission to camp out and conduct a social experiment by tracking people’s reaction, according to Yahoo!’s tech reporter, who also logged his own observations. What happened the most when pedestrians spotted the lanes? “People with phones stop, take them out, and take a picture. I saw that happen at least four times. Nobody took a selfie, though.” Naturally, many who were absorbed by their tiny handheld screens didn’t even look away to notice the markings at all.

Would Vancouverites and visitors here have the same reaction? Imagine the sidewalks at Robson and Granville split for cellphone users and abstainers: Brilliant, ridiculous, or just something else to post on Instagram?



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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail:

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