21 September 2013

Minutes and Metres

I find it particularly annoying when finger posts, directional signs and maps quote distances in times instead of actual measurements. Saying that Westminster Cathedral is 4 minutes away by foot is a little bit idiotic. What if I don't have a watch? What if I walk substantially slower/faster than everyone else? 

This problem is particularly acute in London, where many maps encircle areas that are within a particular distance – quoted in minutes of course. 

The problem with using minutes on finger posts and directional signs is simple: a minute is not the same to everyone. An elderly person may cover 40 metres in a minute, a short person may cover 60 metres in a minute and a tall person (like myself) can easily cover 120 metres in a minute. 

To make matters even more confusing, there is no record as to what speed one is expected to walk at to match the times posted on these signs. So pedestrians are left completely in the dark about the actual distance they actually need to travel to reach their destination. 

My opinion is very simple. Get rid of the minutes and use metres. It makes sense. A metre is te same to everyone, everywhere.  I'd even prefer yards to minutes – and that says a lot. 

In Leyton, it seems like Waltham Forest council have made a feeble attempt to  reduce the ambiguity of 'minute' sighs by also including metres. Whilst I am happy that metres we're chosen in place of yards, the signs quote metres as an abbreviation 'mtrs' instead of the approved symbol 'm'.

When will they learn. 

11 September 2013

Metric Signs in Islington

A few years back, I recall there being an uproar spurred on by the BMWA over Islington Council's decision to use exclusively metric units on some road signs. These included height and width restriction signs, as well as speed bump warnings. 

The vandals removed and defaced many of the signs and mounted pressure on Islington council to replace them with imperial-only signs.  This has left the borough with a series of width restriction signs that are labelled as  6'6" , when in fact they mean 2.0 metres. (In most other places these are dual-unit signs) Considering that vehicle dimensions are specified in millimetres in manuals, anyone without a calculator is at risk of doing damage to their vehicle. 

I managed to find one sign (see below) that escaped the ravages of the BMWA. However, this sign is not without its flaws. 
The sign states Humps for 600 mtrs. 

According to the BIPM, there should never be any abbreviation for the metre – or any metric unit for that matter. Only the whole word or the SI symbol (m) should be used. 

Therefore, the sign should read: Humps for 600 m

Nonetheless, it's always a pleasure to see metric signs on our roads and this is evidence that they pose no danger to road users, who generally speak in metres anyway.