Street Style: How One Little Sign Says So Much

Have you seen the warning sign for “Old People Crossing” that punctuates the U.K’s roads and highways?



The sign, it turns out, was designed by a child and won a contest way back in 1981, when “the elderly” had one foot in the grave, according to kids, at least.

Times have changed – maybe older people have changed – and the British government’s new business czar for older people has pronounced those signs discriminatory. The image of a slow-moving couple hunched over their canes, Dr. Ros Altman says, put employers off hiring workers over 50.

Altman raised the issue in late 2014. “It is not always the case that chronological age means anything for your physical and mental abilities,” she said back then. Earlier, in 2008, the advocacy organization Age Concern floated the same criticism, saying that the signs should be replaced with speed bumps. The Ministry of Transportation declined; a spokesman said the signs portray frail, not elderly people.

Now Anna James, the founder of an e-commerce site that sells well designed gadgets for older people, has partnered with design firm NB Studio to rethink the sign. This week, James’s Spring Chicken site is letting people vote on their pick for the new crossing sign. The designs range from the whimsical to the silly. More than 70 designers submitted ideas, among them Milton Glazer and other well known artists. One even knitted her sign.

Here are the five leading signs by vote as of this writing.

Sign_of_the_times-dance Sign_of_the_times-dear Sign_of_the_times-piggyback Sign_of_the_times-smile


The last one? It’s the Beatles on Abbey Road.

To check out all the signs and vote, click here. Then let us know your favorite in the comments section below.

Read more here.


6 responses to “Street Style: How One Little Sign Says So Much

  1. I REALLY do not like the original sign. I think it is absolutely ageist. Times have obviously changed, and so should the sign–if special signage is needed at all. Maybe crossings should be clearly marked, with adequate time allotted for EVERYONE to cross–moms with strollers, pet-walkers, people with disabilities, children–and older people!

  2. I pick “slow down dear”

    It is comforting and kindly . People know it could be for any age person crossing the road. Happy to see it will be changed! No need to continue this negative and declining attitude by advertisers and sign makers.
    Age is just a number. You can be slow and frail at any age.

  3. There is one of these signs in the village where my sister lives in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, England. I always thought it was a little inappropriate, but the British sometimes think differently than we Americans.

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