“We are not actually advocating for pedestrians to look at their phones,” said Cao Hanjia, the mall’s spokeswoman. “But we can’t regulate people’s activities and tell them, ‘You’re not allowed to look at your cellphone while walking.’”
Instead, messages painted along the lane cheekily cajole walkers to look up and pay attention.
“Please don’t look down for the rest of your life,” one message reads. “Path for the special use of the heads-down tribe,” another says snarkily.
Though the mall’s owners have taken a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward distracted walking, the dangers are serious.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 68,000 pedestrians are killed every year in China. That is more than a quarter of the 260,000 people killed annually in road accidents.
Photos of the Xi’an pedestrian path went viral on Chinese social media this week, after an article was published in the Beijing Youth Daily, a state-owned newspaper.