There are toll lanes and bike lanes, high-occupancy lanes and SunPass lanes. Now, behold the e-lane. In Philadelphia this week, there are new lines on sidewalks near City Hall to designate walking lanes for texters, tweeters and digital music listeners who are too preoccupied to look where they're going. If that sounds like a joke, it is — in Philadelphia. In the Florida Legislature, e-lanes would be regarded as a stroke of brilliance.
City officials painted the lines as an April Fools' Day bit. A video shows Mayor Michael Nutter promoting the lanes and being interrupted by a preoccupied pedestrian played by another city official. There's even a group of antitexting protesters. But the joke has a serious punch line about the dangers of distracted walkers. It's such an issue that Philadelphians walking by who were interviewed by National Public Radio thought e-lanes are a swell idea and didn't realize it was a hoax.
We already have the Phillies in Clearwater for spring training and an affection for cheesesteaks. Maybe the e-lane could be another Philadelphia export to Florida, with a twist. There could be an e-lane experiment on a couple of major roads, beginning first in Tallahassee, where drivers already are too often texting or talking on the phone. As long as Florida legislators refuse to ban texting while driving, the distracted drivers at least could be separated from those who are paying attention.
Try it next April Fools' Day. And feel free to tweet or text this brainstorm — but not while driving or walking.