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16 Aug, 2010 18:51

When in China, beware of benches

Chinese park officials are going to teach their visitors good manners with the help of steel spikes inserted in benches.

Like many Europeans, on the weekends the Chinese, starving to relax and unwind, tend to flee big cities and flock to nearby green zones. The problem is that there are millions of those escaping and only a limited number of parks, so you cannot even dream of sitting at a comfortable bench unless you arrive at dawn.

Outraged by such behavior, officials of the Yantai Park in Shangdong province, eastern China, have decided to put an end to injustice and assure that all facilities are shared equally.

Inspired by an art installation by a German artist, they fitted park benches with retractable steel spikes that hide when a coin is inserted and shoot up when the paid time is over. The officials claim that their invention cannot cause any serious harm – however, just in case, they made the benches beep out loud when the sitting time is about to expire.

Park officials hope these coin-operated timers will stop people from lingering on benches for a long time.