Testing a No-Cellphone Sidewalk Lane

A new National Geographic TV series captures pedestrians navigating—and ignoring—signs indicating a cell-free zone. 

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Walk the walk, don't talk the talk. (AP/Cliff Owen)

Sidewalk collisions involving pedestrians engrossed in their electronic devices have become an irritating (and sometimes dangerous) fact of city life. To prevent them, what about just creating a “no cellphones” lane on the sidewalk? Would people follow the signs? That’s what a TV crew decided to find out on a Washington, D.C., street last week as part of a behavioral science experiment for a new National Geographic TV series.

As might be expected, some pedestrians ignored the chalk markings designating a no-cellphones lane and a lane that warned pedestrians to walk “at your own risk.” Others didn’t even see them because they were too busy staring at their phones. But others stopped, took pictures and posted them—from their phones, of course.

So, what conclusions could be drawn from the stunt? We won’t know until the show airs, probably later this year, said Zac Nealy, a supervising production manager for Tigress Productions. He said the series is still unnamed, though the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development website listed it as “Mind over Masses” (which Nealy called a working title), “a new science show that uses what we know about human behavior to create fun and interactive solutions to everyday problems.”

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

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