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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 04-Jun-15 11:57:51

Signs of the times

Anna James, founder of Spring Chicken, thinks it's time for a change - on the roads, that is. According to her, it's time we revamped those 'elderly crossing' signs (you know, the ones depicting a couple bent over their walking sticks) to reflect the life and vigour of today's older generations.

Anna James

Signs of the times

Posted on: Thu 04-Jun-15 11:57:51


Lead photo

Contributors from left to right: James Henderson, Brand 42, Alan Dye and Margaret Calvert.

Virtually all the road signs in Britain were designed by the amazing and feisty Margaret Calvert. She is one of the people that has shaped our environment more than anybody else. But one got away. Margaret did not design the elderly people sign. It is recognisable and shows a silhouette of two extremely decrepit old people crossing a road. But older people aren't like that anymore.

Mick Jagger and Billy Connolly are 72, Judi Dench is 80 and Dame Helen
Mirren is the face of L’Oreal at 69. People are living longer and older age
needs rebranding. 

Working with Michael Wolff, one of Spring Chicken's advisors and the founder of the branding agency Wolff Olins, and NB Studio, our design agency, we launched a competition inviting the world's best graphic designers, including Margaret Calvert herself, to reimagine the road sign.

Mick Jagger and Billy Connolly are 72, Judi Dench is 80 and Dame Helen
Mirren is the face of L'Oreal at 69. People are living longer and older age
needs rebranding.

They came up with some truly fantastic ideas (and some quite silly ones!) but all of them do what we wanted, which is to celebrate the energy, humour and life in older people. Most of them are certainly better than the one we currently see on our roads! 

The competition has so far received over 100 designs which are now being exhibited on the website. There are some brilliant quality designs and some incredibly inventive entries. One team even knitted their proposal - and all of them did it for free. People have been liking, tweeting and voting for their favourite designs on our website. So far, the front runner is by James Henderson.

Brand 42 has also captured the public vote with their nomination, while Alan Dye's challenge of ageing has equally grabbed attention. Wonderfully, Margaret Calvert is also proving popular. Margaret originally designed the school children crossing sign and has updated the image of her brother and self in their older guise.

Now, we would love to find the Gransnet favourite…and get the government to take down that old out of date sign. 

Anna James is the founder of Spring Chicken - find out more about them and the competition on the Spring Chicken website.

By Anna James

Twitter: @SpringChickenAJ

Stansgran Thu 04-Jun-15 12:03:28

I think a couple with two walking poles plus rucksacks and walking boots would be good . On the other hand a mobility scooter rampant might be better as they are proliferating here.

soontobe Thu 04-Jun-15 15:05:51

If the people crossing have energy and life, then there doesnt need to be a sign at all.

The elderly crossing sign makes no mention of age.
It is about the imfirmity I presume.

The website is called SpringChicken[I havent looked it up]. If they are spring chickens they could be out dancing, so they can cross the road, and no need for a sign.

I think the sign should stay as it is. I havent heard that the sign causes problems, so I dont believe in messing with something that works, and is fully understood by drivers.

janeainsworth Thu 04-Jun-15 15:58:23

I agree with you soon.
I think the new signs are funny, but unnecessary.
Due consideration should be given to all pedestrians.
It's useful to be aware that children are around, as they might dash into the road. And infirm people would be slower at crossing.
But ballroom-dancing, fell-walking oldies can surely look after themselves.

Here in the USA the signs on every sidewalk warning drivers they face $1000 fines if they don't yield to pedestrians seem remarkably effective!

etheltbags1 Thu 04-Jun-15 16:11:29

just a warning sign saying 'old peoples home' or school/nursery/hospital would be enough. I do find these examples funny though

thatbags Thu 04-Jun-15 16:20:05

The current signs are usually near old people's homes, so they are not to warn us about energetic old people whose speed of movement is not compromised. The current signs are used in a similar way to signs warning drivers there is a school nearby and to watch out for children.

I agree with soon and janea: if it aint broke, don't fix it.

The idea seems a bit silly to me.

Pamish Fri 05-Jun-15 15:52:09

While we're at it - a couple of years ago there was a campaign to replace the wheelchair-user disablilty sign with one that's more dynamic. The passive seated wheelchair user becomes someone else with just a change of angle - think of her italicised - or there are more ideas. Anyone know how far the campaign has come, since?

trisher Mon 08-Jun-15 10:56:04

The fact that there are active 60 and 70 year olds is irrelevant. The sign is meant for places where there are numbers of people crossing the road who are infirm- now probably in their 80s and 90s. If we are fit and active we don't need a sign if we are older and less mobile the sign conveys this well. I'd rather see a different sign outside secondary schools than the present one that covers all children. A large teenager running across the road wearing earphones and looking at a mobile phone would be better!

Bellanonna Mon 08-Jun-15 11:23:10

I think the visual impact of the present signs is sufficient to warn us that elderly people may be crossing and these signs are usually near care homes.
If seeing them makes us slow down and be aware, then it works. It works, too, for foreign drivers where words could take a few seconds to interpret.
I suppose the sign outside schools is to warn us that children might dash into the road, irrespective of age. As someone said, if it ain't broke....

FlicketyB Tue 09-Jun-15 08:59:57

If drivers need to be warned of disabled people (of any age) likely to be crossing a road at any point then the solution isn't a special sign, it is a zebra crossing with/without traffic lights.

annodomini Tue 09-Jun-15 09:20:33

On the road where I live there is a preponderance of older people in terraced houses and in a sheltered complex. So pedestrians walking to the shops are likely to be older and there are a good many using mobility scooters. A line of parked cars means that one has to be very careful crossing the road. We are all quite old enough to be aware of such hazards. Drivers have to go quite slowly past our houses as the parked cars effectively create a one-way-at-a time system. There are two of the 'elderly crossing' signs, one of them immediately opposite my house (which my family think highly amusing!. Drivers who frequently use this road probably don't even notice these signs any more. I know the current sign is demeaning to the majority who are still reasonably mobile, but I don't think the proposed alternatives showing us doing activities like dancing are any more informative and could be confusing as they don't give any indication of age or possible infirmity. What we really need here is a programme of repairs to our dangerously cracked and broken pavements which pose far more of a risk to us than speeding drivers.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 13-Jun-15 19:57:20

"But older people aren't like that anymore."

I think you'll find that, sooner or later, they are.

Don't be silly. smile

trisher Sun 14-Jun-15 10:44:49

Is it just me or is this "Spring Chicken" thing condescending in itsself. what we need is older people to be treat as individuals and not as some "special group". They have one or two older people involved but most are not.

FlicketyB Sun 14-Jun-15 12:28:51

What we need is an all purpose sign to warn drivers that they are entering an area where vulnerable pedestrians will be crossing, whether elderly, children or just disabled, mentally or physically.

To my suggestion of having a pedestrian crossing, I add the suggestion of a 20 mph speed limit and scrap all these signs completely.

GeminiJen Wed 17-Jun-15 18:30:51

When I came across this thread I thought, Hear, Hear, Sally James... Not before time!
And my favourite is Brand 42, followed by Margaret Calvert....
Then I read through the thread, and find that I'm in the minority...
Hey ho... it's not for the first time, and I can live with that.
I agree too with jinglbellsfrocks ...!
(That's because I'm half way through a rather generous G&T...
Does it show?! smile

edmontonkitty Thu 18-Jun-15 08:01:55

I agree with Soon.. and others - if they're not elderly and decrepit why do they need a sign warning drivers that they might be crossing?

Falconbird Fri 19-Jun-15 08:40:10

Old age covers a very wide spectrum so I like the sign with "getting on a bit" folk crossing the road and the one in the front is carrying a guitar. smile