Although the British Government initially promised the European Union it would fully metricate its transport systems (and
everything else) by the year 1979, all of our roads are still [fortunately] labeled in miles and yards. The complete-by date
was extended by negotiation between the UK and EU back to 1989, then 1999, then 2009 before being dropped altogether. It was
announced in March 2006 by the then-transport secretary that the signs on our roads would not be changed in the foreseeable
future, simply due to the amount of money that such a program would be a waste of (something the order of £500,000,000).
Nevertheless, despite it being national law to show imperial units on all signs, exclusively on some whilst metric equivalents
are optional on others, in many places up and down the country metric-only signs have been installed. This is a potential
source of trouble as has been demonstrated in the past in incidents involving high vehicles and low bridges. Of note here
is the fact that 1 inch, the smallest factor allowed on bridge heights, is four times more precise than 0.1m, the smallest
metric graduation allowed. In Milton Keynes alone I have observed no less than five metric-only height restrictions, without
even intending to find any. Thanks to the work of the Active Resistance to Metrication, many such signs across the country
have since been corrected.
Oddly enough, despite all of the signs being imperial, road planning is done exclusively in metric, and such daft regulations
exist as that advising workers to put 800yd warning signs 900m from the start of the works in question. Why the imperial system
isn't used here is unfathomable, as metric's supposed advantages do not even come into play.
On the railways, all speed limits on the national rail network (besides the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) have to be displayed
in MPH. However, light rail systems the like of the Tyne and Wear metro use km/h, necessitating dual signs on shared routes
such as that in Sunderland, where the speed limit for metro trains is actually slightly higher than that for the mainline
trains. The dual limits are confusing and once again there is no real need for the use of metric here - light rail systems
in the United States use miles to no extra cost.
Despite the spread of metric across the Earth, aircraft across the world continue to use feet for altitude. This is an
American practice originally (it being them who flew the first airplane) and has spread across the globe, along with the use
of the knot (nautical mile / hour) for speed in both aircraft and ships. throughout the last five decades there has been no
attempt by aircraft operators to change these facts. The foot is a more precise measure of distance than the metre (through
its smaller size).
All in all, this does beg the question; if the use of imperial units is still so widespread (not all examples are included
above), why on Earth are they not taught in schools?