One Utah university is giving students glued to their cellphones a place to call their own: a designated lane for texting while walking. The neon green lanes painted on the stairs to the gym at Utah Valley University were intended as a lighthearted way to brighten up the space and get students' attention, says spokeswoman Melinda Colton. And it worked. A picture of the lanes—which divide the stairs into sections for runners, walkers, and texters—created widespread buzz on social media this month after it was posted online. Utah Valley University is in Orem, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, and has an enrollment of about 31,000.
Though the spokeswoman says she hasn't heard of the concept at any other colleges, it's not the first time anywhere it's been tried. The Chinese city of Chongqing last year created a smartphone sidewalk lane that was intended to be ironic while also reminding people that staring at phones while on the go can be dangerous. Officials said they got the idea from a similar stretch of pavement in Washington, DC, created by National Geographic Television as part of a behavior experiment. The smartphone lanes attracted attention there, too, but people using their phones generally didn't notice them.