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Hong Kong Lighting Crosswalk Pavement to Save Phone Addicts from Themselves

When you cross the street, you should be looking left and right and left again, not at your phone. Texting and crossing can get you killed.

To get pedestrians’ eyes up on the road, Honolulu has tried ticketing distracted walkers. Rather than trying to change behavior, Hong Kong is following the eyeballs and putting red light on the ground:

Devices recently installed at several road crossings in Hong Kong project a red light onto the edge of the sidewalk — as well as any pedestrians standing there — whenever the “Don’t Walk” signal is engaged, in a pilot project meant to improve pedestrian safety.

…The devices, which have been installed on traffic lights at seven crosswalks in various parts of Hong Kong, will be monitored for efficiency. If the six-month testing period is a success, the system will be implemented more widely.

The initiative was inspired by similar projects in other countries, the Transport Department said. Many major cities in mainland China have equipped crosswalks with LED lights that shine up from the road to keep distracted jaywalkers alert [Dylan Butts, “Hong Kong’s Phone-Obsessed Pedestrians Get Some Extra Help at the Crosswalk,” NBC News, 2022.07.25].

The Dutch town of Bodegraven installed LED ground lights at a crosswalk in 2017 to alert phone addicts of impending danger. Safety advocates said accommodating inattention “rewards bad behavior“:

“It’s not a good idea to help mobile phone users look at their phones,” said Jose de Jong of VVN, the Dutch Traffic Safety Association.

“We don’t want people to use phones when they’re dealing with traffic, even when walking around.

“People must always look around them, to check if cars are actually stopping at the red signals” [“Pavement Lights Guide ‘Smartphone Zombies’,” BBC, 2017.02.16].

If we’re concerned about feeding screen addiction, perhaps cities could instead install short-range sensors and transmitters at crosswalks that would identify phones on a trajectory to cross the street and tap the emergency alert feature on those phones to vibrate and post a pop-up screen saying, “LOOK UP!”


  1. All Mammal 2022-07-28 18:43

    Stop impeding natural selection hey.

  2. grudznick 2022-07-28 22:13

    grudznick rides with Ms. Mammal on this one.

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