The Unexpected Exhibition

Have you ever seen the elderly people sign on the streets?

I was walking around Brick Lane was weekend, when I bumped into this very interesting exhibition. The idea behind it was to make people aware of the current elderly people sign and to change the image of ageing by bringing some wit and humour, and a more accurate reflection of older people, to the sign.


Since its introduction in 1981, the “elderly crossing” sign beside roads throughout the UK has been a source of controversy. In 2014, Dr Ros Altmann, the pensions expert and campaigner, called the sign redundant and appealed for it to be banned. “I think we do not need a sign to warn people of older people,” she said. “The sign gives the message that old people are frail and disabled – it contributes to the some of the age discrimination that we know exists in society.”

Anna James, founder of Spring Chicken, which specialises in selling gadgets designed to make life easier for older people, is hoping to change that. James has asked designers to reinvent the current “elderly crossing” sign to “do justice to the fantastic creativity, energy, curiosity and sheer vim of the older people that we meet”. In her opinion, there is a way to represent the need for drivers to slow down without suggesting that life is over for older people.


The Designers offered dozens of witty alternatives to the ‘patronising’ road sign that suggests older people are all infirm and hazards to drivers. There were more than 70 designers’ signs at the exhibition, including Margaret Calvert, the typographer and graphic designer, who created many of the road signs used throughout the UK. Calvert designed the “children crossing” road sign using herself and her younger brother as the inspiration. Her new design is thought to draw from the same inspiration and reads “After Margaret Calvert – 50 years on”.

You can see all designs and vote for your favourite on the Spring Chicken website.

The signs are currently auctioned on Ebay, so check them out and happy bidding!

Photography by Martyn Leung.






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