Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/20/elderly_persons_sign/

Old timers rattle zimmers at 'Elderly Persons' sign

Warning: Patronised pensioners ahead

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 20th August 2008 09:58 GMT

Campaigning old timers organisation Age Concern is demanding the scrapping of the "Elderly Persons" road sign, which suggests that advanced years come at the price of a hunched back and a hobble to the shops propped up on a walking stick.

UK elderly persons road signThe offending image - introduced in 1981 - is described by the British Medical Journal as showing "a silhouette of a man with a flexed posture using a cane and leading a kyphotic woman" which "implies that osteopaenic vertebral collapse and the need for mobility aids are to be expected with physical disability as well as with advancing age".

Lizzy McLennan, an Age Concern senior policy officer, told the Telegraph: "Very few older people are hunched over, with a walking stick. They are assuming everyone who is old looks like that, and they don't."

The organisation's director general, Gordon Lishman, added: "The motivation behind these signs - to make drivers more careful of their speed in areas with residential care homes - is positive. However in practice a reduced speed limit in such areas, as implemented in school districts, would be a more welcome way to achieve this."

However, Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers' Alliance countered: "They should pay more attention to the real concerns of older people - rising taxes and soaring household bills."

A Department for Transport spokesman, meanwhile, insisted the sign "was not intended to depict elderly people, but those who were frail". The image is, the BMJ notes, also used for "frail, disabled, or blind people, even though many of these people are not old". ®