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Caring for old folk: texters get own lane

TAKING a cue from an American TV programme, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone footpath lane, seemingly offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they're going.

But the property manager says it's intended to be ironic - to remind people that it's dangerous to tweet while walking the street.

"There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cellphone may cause unnecessary collisions here," said Nong Cheng, the marketing official with Meixin Group, which manages the area in the city's entertainment zone.

Meixin has marked a 50m stretch of pavement with two lanes: one that prohibits cellphone use next to one that allows pedestrians to use them - at their "own risk".

Nong said the idea came from a similar stretch of pavement in Washington DC created by National Geographic Television in July as part of a behaviour experiment.

She said pedestrians were not taking the new lanes seriously, but that many were snapping pictures of the signs and footpath.

"Those using their cellphones of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement," she said. "They don't notice them."