30 April 2013

Birmingham's Waterways

Before my most recent trip to Birmingham, I was told that it is an architecturally uninspiring and characterless city. However, it seems that the city is highly undersold. Admittedly, there are parts of the city which are dingy, but it is evident that a lot of investment has gone into the city in recent years.

Shiny new buildings dot the skyline and complement the historic baroque buildings, to some extent even allowing one to overlook some of the less attractive edifices from the 60s. One of my favourite things about the city is how car-friendly it is in comparison to London. With wide roads and lots of affordable parking, it's a stark contrast to London's narrow and winding streets, but it still maintains pedestrian-friendliness.

As I'm not an employee of visitbirmingham.com, I'll get to the point of this blog post: signs on the canal.

Upon descending from broad street to the canal, I was met by a sign showing all of the landmarks from that point specified in metres and kilometres (see the photo). You'll also notice that these are not, by any means modern signs. I am by no means an expert on the history of Birmingham, so if anyone knows how old these signs are, I'd appreciate if you let me know.

All the signs that I saw along the canal were specified in metric units, unlike the mish-mash of metric and imperial units on the waterways of London. Even my friend (who is not as favourable of the metric system as I am), appreciated the consistency of the signage and got to grips with them quite quickly. My friend even said that it's so much easier to work in metric because you can compare a distance in metres to one in kilometres so much more easily than one in fractions of miles to yards.

This just goes to show, metric signs make sense and it defies the argument that imperial units are 'natural'. They are dated and belong in the past.

09 April 2013

Metric Directional Sign at Putney Station (imperial finger post outside)

There is one thing that I like to do when I get bored. This is usually get on a bus or train and venture to some far-flung place.

My most recent adventure only took me as far as the opposite side of London, but I came upon a discovery that would please the few readers of this blog that are out there. A directional sign at Putney Station, which used metric units. (See photo)

The sign was directing commuters to East Putney underground station, which it mentioned as "1 kilometre" away. Besides the fact that it would have been preferable to use the international standard symbol (km) rather than the whole word, it was still refreshing to see.

My feeling of excitement subsided immediately after leaving the station. Right outside the door, there was a large finger post stating that east Putney was 2/3 mile away.

This is yet another classic example of the British metric muddle.