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Campaign To Replace Objectionable 'Elderly People' Road Sign

By raccars Published

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The 'Elderly People' road sign has been a distinctly unflattering way to warn drivers that older pedestrians may be ahead since 1981, with many older people objecting to the level of decrepitude displayed. Showing a bent over old couple hobbling along with a walking stick, it's not a particularly realistic representation of today's sprightlier older generation.

The original design was chosen from a number of entries to a children's competition but received a number of complaints. Last year Dr Ros Altmann, the Minister of State Pensions and Government tsar for the elderly, criticised the use of the sign and claimed that its flattering depiction encouraged employers not to hire those over 50. As a result, a series of potential new designs has been created to present a more entertaining view of older people.

Margaret Calvert, who created a number of our road signs, including 'Children Crossing' and Men at Work,' has come up with a more upbeat version of the current doddering couple, with a jaunty pair crossing the road hand in hand. Calvert was born in 1936 and based the 'Children Crossing' sign upon herself as a child. She used herself as inspiration again to come up with her new 'Elderly People' sign.

Other designers have created an 'Elderly People' sign representing Morecambe and Wise, tablets and pills, and a zimmer frame.

The campaign was organised by Anna James of online shop, Spring Chicken, which specialises in products to make life easier for elderly people. Working with 81 year old Michael Wolff of branding firm, Wolff Olins, and branding experts, NB Studio, she claims the idea was to challenge the outdated stereotype of older people represented by the current 'Elderly People' sign, and to show that modern old age doesn't have to mean decrepitude of spirit along with failing bodies. She referenced famous older people, such as Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, Billy Connolly and Mick Jagger, to show that old age and wit and humour are not mutually exclusive.

A website and Facebook page are accompanying the initiative to show people some of the various entries submitted as possible replacements, which include the silhouette of a stairlift, a tortoise, a racing mobility scooter, a walking stick brandishing grandad on a skateboard, a joky dinosaur and text only options, such as 'Oldies', 'My Nan Lives Near' and 'Older Adults Getting Quite Cross Here'.

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