Frail pedestrian sign is “offensive to the elderly”

A leading pensions campaigner has called for the classic ‘frail pedestrians’ road sign to be scrapped, because it’s offensive to elderly people.

Government adviser and prevalent campaigner Dr Ros Altmann is due to pressure Equalities Minister Jo Swanson into axing the sign at an upcoming meeting.

“Unfit for work”?

According to Altmann, the sign, which has been a common and recognisable fixture on British roadways for decades, brands older people as “unfit for work”.

The campaigner claims that the depiction of the elderly in the familiar triangle reinforces perceptions that older people lack fitness and capability.

Dr Altmann states that, as a result, older workers may find it harder to get work due to these outdated stereotypes that perpetuate the notion of elderly workers being infirm or unable to perform at work.

She said: “It’s simply not reflective of society in this day and age. It’s symptomatic of some of the thinking that writes older people off unnecessarily and unfairly.”

The design of the road sign, which features a hunched couple with a walking stick, dates from 1965 when the government introduced new signs as part of the Worboys Committee.

Set up in 1961 as a response to graphic designer Herbert Spencer, who rubbished the effectiveness of British road signs of the time, the Committee created the signs which have been used since.

Despite Dr Altmann’s protestations, motoring groups have spoken out in defence of the current design of the frail pedestrians signage.

“Quick and easy” to recognise

A spokesman for the AA said: “There are areas where there may be vulnerable pedestrians and this is a sign that conveys that quickly and easily to motorists.

“But I don’t think we would have a problem with a debate or consultation, and renewing the signs may refresh the warning.”

If Dr Altmann’s campaign is successful, this will mark the second major shakeup of British road sign policy this year, after the Department for Transport announced it would remove unnecessary signs.

Currently, it’s estimated that there around 4.5 million road signs in Britain, but ministers have said that there are far too many, with those deemed unnecessary due to be scrapped.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “This is causing unnecessary clutter in our towns and cities,

“The proposed changes will mean greater flexibility for councils to cut the number of signs, whilst ensuring consistency and making sure our roads are even safer.”