Do elderly pedestrians in the U.K. really need a sign warning drivers that they are in the vicinity? Ros Altman, the British government's older workers expert, wants the traffic signs banned because they create a negative image of old people unable to cross roads, reports The Telegraph.
Reminiscent of the popular "Baby On Board" signs that were once omnipresent on car windows in the U.S. -- a staple gift at every baby shower based on the presumed logic that drivers would be more cautious around a car if they knew it was carrying a child -- Altman fears that the image of two people hunched over and carrying a cane is out of date and could actually be reinforcing a stereotype of older people as being infirm.
While the signs are relegated to gag gifts in the U.S., AARP did have this to say about the story: "While we could look at the 'elderly crossing' sign as an age discrimination, the larger issue isn’t as much age discrimination in the signage as it is shortsightedness of municipal planners. Streets on which traffic is too fast for older people are streets which are just too fast," said AARP spokeswoman Nancy Thompson.
She noted: "All streets and neighborhoods need to be user-friendly. Mothers with strollers or Dads with toddlers, delivery people with hand trucks and hipsters with Razor scooters face the same challenges as older people, whether from uneven sidewalks, poor lighting, streets that favor cars, or street crossings that are too wide or timed too poorly for all but the swiftest athletes. AARP supports the concept called Complete Streets which treats pedestrians, bikes, transit and cars equally. While signs that warn of children or older people may cause drivers to slow depending on how conscientious the driver is, the street itself needs to be better designed for everyone."
What do you think of the elderly crossing signs? Let us know in comments.