City creates new sidewalk lane for ‘distracted walkers’ (UPDATED)

Never worry about missing that crucial e-mail during your five-minute walk back from lunch again.

Though rumors swirled last summer that Philadelphia made texting while walking a ticketable offense, the city announced yesterday that it will be going a different route: dedicating a lane of sidewalk traffic to the preoccupied pedestrians.

Pedestrians were perplexed this afternoon at the bizarre debut of the city’s first “E-Lane” of sidewalk traffic, designated for those who wish to use electronic devices while walking, on the 1400 block of JFK Boulevard in Center City.

Some kept to their designated direction in the two-way lane demarcated by white paint. Some tip-toed carefully on the margins, while others avoided the lane altogether or burst into giggles at the signs depicting a stick figure holding up a mobile device.

Perhaps most tellingly, those buried in their cell phones seemed not to notice it at all. “I looked down, but I didn’t know what it was,” said T.J. Jizzi of Bensalem as he and two friends texted on their touch screens. Jizzi said that he thought the lane was a good idea, as he and his friends often bump into people while walking and using their phones.

But not everyone was sold. “I think it’s a waste of money, honestly,” said Philadelphia resident Gary Dixon as he waited for the bus. “There’s a lot of issues you could address, confront and deal with that are very much more important. This would be way at the bottom.”

Mayor Michael Nutter and the city’s Office of Transportation and Utilities rolled out the lane at a press conference on Saturday. In honor of April Fool’s Day, the pedestrian thoroughfare is what Chief of Staff Andrew Stober calls a “serious prank.”

“It’s not something we’re going to keep after the pilot period,” Stober said. “The pilot period is an opportunity over the course of the next week to start a dialogue about pedestrian safety and people looking out for themselves while walking around the city.”

“We noticed an increasing problem with people not paying attention to where they’re going and being distracted by phones and smartphones and thought this was a fun way to draw attention to the issue and hopefully make the city safer.”

Stober said that the effort was entirely financed by donations, down to the tape marking off the lane.

Photos and video of the pilot will be available here.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

National

Missouri man charged with sexually torturing five women

A Missouri man has been charged with raping and torturing five women in a St. Louis-area apartment over several years, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.