To ease the transition to metric measures, straight substitution of units is often used – kg for pounds, metres for yards, km for miles and so on. Ronnie Cohen argues that, as a result, we fail to take advantage of metric’s superiority in dealing with a range of numbers, including the very large (and small).
Ronnie Cohen writes about the muddle of measurement units he has found on public signs in London, particularly those related to public transport and cycling. If two measurement systems were not bad enough, he has found there are now three.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) now puts forward cost as the principal reason for the failure to convert road traffic signs to metric. Ronnie Cohen reports on a major study he has recently carried out, using the Freedom of Information Act, to find out the actual costs of replacing and installing traffic signs. He finds that the DfT estimate of cost, published in 2006, bears little relation to reality.
It was inevitable that the selection of London to host the Olympic Games would bring into focus some of the consequences of the UK’s measurement muddle. Metric Views looks at one aspect, the measurement of body height and weight, measured in metric for athletes, and in imperial for many others following the custom of previous generations.
In the early years of the twentieth century, both US customary (USC) and metric measures were seen by some in Britain as threats to the survival of the Imperial system. The end of Empire saw metric supplant Imperial, while USC has endured. Could it become the saviour of the few Imperial measures that survive in the UK, despite the differences between the two systems?
Poor numeracy is blighting Britain’s economic performance and ruining lives, says a new charity launched to champion better maths skills.
Continue reading “The link between measurement skills and numeracy”
We, the public, are encouraged by some politicians, by the DfT and by elements of the media to pick and mix our measurement units – to use both imperial and metric. So why has imperial as a system fallen from favour among those resisting change, and been replaced by a hybrid?
Which is preferable: a swift metric transition or a leisurely one? UKMA would have preferred the former. Successive UK governments have opted for the latter, believing that it carries less risk to their popularity. Ronnie Cohen assesses progress.