Following on from our article last week about those curious signs in Southend, Ronnie Cohen, one of our regular readers, now reports on a few others that have attracted his attention.
We are all familiar with the muddle that has developed over several decades as successive British governments avoided completing the change to the metric system. This is reflected in muddled signage, both public and private.
Examples of incorrect signage on public highways were highlighted in UKMA’s Vehicle Dimensions Signs Report, which may be downloaded here:
As mentioned in the previous article, signs that do not conform to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) are, by definition, not traffic signs and require alternative authorisation. They are then subject to control only in the interests of amenity and public safety. This occasionally leads to some creative and inventive signs as well as some confusing ones.
The two signs shown below fall into the former category. There do not conform to the TSRGD but are needed to meet health and safety requirements. Hence the obligatory use of metric measures.
Confusion reigns, however, in the next two images:
The first shows two circular signs, presumably both speed limits. One is clearly 5 miles per hour maximum speed. So is the top circular sign 10 mph or 10 km/h?
The second image shows a consequence of trying to run two measurement systems side-by-side – the possibility of conversion errors. A restriction of 1.9 metres is much lower than 8′-3″, so what actually is the clearance?
One of the daftest ideas to come out of the Department for Transport (DfT) recently is the use of minutes to express distances for cyclists (although it does discourage action by “Imperial vigilantes”).
What is the basis for the number of minutes to destinations? How much time are cyclists expected to wait at traffic lights or in heavy traffic? How fast is the cyclist – leisurely pace perhaps, or a fast one, but surely not Tour de France. Doubtless the answer is on the DfT website, somewhere.
And what is this about?
The use of “KPH” in the UK is strongly influenced by the use of “mph” but is an incorrect symbol for kilometres per hour which should be “km/h”. If we stopped using “mph”, perhaps we would be less likely to use “kph”.
These are a few examples of novel signs encountered by just one of our readers. You will probably know of others.
So clearly there are problems with the measurement units used on signage in Britain, both public and private, indicated by:
- inconsistencies in private signs like those in this article;
- the proliferation of official types of signs and their incorrect application, as noted in UKMA’s Vehicle Dimension Signs Report;
- the activities of “Imperial vigilantes”, an example of which was discussed in the previous article on Metric Views; and, not least,
- the failure of the Traffic Signs Policy Review of 2008 to 2011 to achieve significant progress.
We are not suggesting that the adoption by the UK of a single, simple, logical and coherent measurement system, understood and used by all, would solve these problems overnight.
But it would certainly help.