US Roadsigns in metric

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Ian

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Today in another Forum I was discussing differences between Celsius and Fahrenheit as a scale for meauring temperatures.
While looking up links on Wikpedia I found this interesting site talking about the US and Metrication. Did you know that the US first committed to metrication back in 1875!
A link on that page took me to this site ( http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/signs/index.html )  showing a range of roadsigns in the US that carry metric information.

While I have never been outside Australia I would guess that around the borders with both Canada and Mexico there might be joint signage and probably a few airports might have metric distances in cluded to help international visitors.

Maybe there are framily who have seen other examples?
 

Jeff

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Ian:

We have a few token 100KM signs in place of 67 Mile signs.

That's about it.
 

Carl L

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I live in California and have traveled around the west pretty extensively.  There was a rash of metric signage in the early 90s irrc.  It was pushed by the Feds.  There was a backlash and the thing died out.  No more metric, except as an subsidary scale on speedometers.

 

Jeff

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Carl Lundquist said:
I live in California and have traveled around the west pretty extensively.  There was a rash of metric signage in the early 90s irrc.  It was pushed by the Feds.  There was a backlash and the thing died out.  No more metric, except as an subsidary scale on speedometers.

Carl:

I hate to think what was spent on metric signs 20 years ago.
 

Carl L

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Jeff /Washington said:
Carl:

I hate to think what was spent on metric signs 20 years ago.

There's worse.  Engineers were going to have to draw plans in meteric.  My bureau had a principal engineer and a team working on the thing.
 

Ian

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Carl, I guess the work they have done towards metrication is now out of date and would have to be done again once the ball started to roll again?
 

Karl

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Not really metrification, but years ago whenthe use of international-type signs were coming into vogue (those with the red slash thru them), I used to commute back and forth between Milwaukee and Chicago on the train. The return trip at night always had a club car and a dining car. At one end of each passenger car there was a sign that had a knife and fork displayed indicating the dining car was in that direction. However, the opposite end of the cars had the same knife/fork with a red slash thru it and words below (in English only) that read "Other Way"! The first time I saw it I laughed out loud. Their intentions were good, but fell a little short :-[ Wish I had taken a picture ;D
 

Carl L

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Ian said:
Carl, I guess the work they have done towards metrication is now out of date and would have to be done again once the ball started to roll again?

Not out of date -- more like the projects, if any, are done.  Civil design is based on a whole mass of interlocking quantification.  Concrete and excavation is bid by the cubic yard.  Land is acquired by the foot and square foot from legal descriptions and existing survey data  in feet.  Existing sub-structures are in footage likewise.  Design standards are in footage  Contractors think in common units.    Designs in meteric necessarily  require two way translation between common and metric.  Much effort, damn little benefit.  The USA is not going to import or export heavy construction on its own territory. 

If metric rolls again, everything done earlier is dead. 

 

Lowell

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If the US had converted to metric at the time, we wouldn't have any problems with it today.  It is much easier to use than our current English system. Before I retired, the company I worked for did a lot of work with Airbus in Germany and France.  We did much of it in metric units. It really wasn't a problem for us.  However, problems are likely to occur if one uses both units at the same time, and inadvertently, interchange them. 
Jake
 

Tom

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One of the many challenges is coverting existing drawings and specs. When you convert, for example, 1 inch, the result is 25.4 mm. We humans like to think in round numbers and, if designing in metric, would probably choose 25 mm. But something that measures 1 inch really is a different size than something that measures 25 mm.

I'm not holding my breath for the U.S. to go metric any time soon.
 

Carl L

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Jake said:
If the US had converted to metric at the time, we wouldn't have any problems with it today.? It is much easier to use than our current English system. Before I retired, the company I worked for did a lot of work with Airbus in Germany and France.? We did much of it in metric units. It really wasn't a problem for us.? However, problems are likely to occur if one uses both units at the same time, and inadvertently, interchange them.?
Jake

America's problem was that it was not conquered by a military despot who forced the change all at once overriding all objections with the guillotine.  Britain suffered from the same disadvantage as the USA, and staggered along thru an industrial revolution and conquered 1/4th of the world without the benefit of neat division by powers of 10.  Part of matter was that they were an island, just like the USA.  Marine transport uses neither metric nor common.  It uses the minute of latitude as its distance standard -- the nautical mile.  The UK has coverted, kicking and screaming, because of the EU.  We are our own EU.

 

JGarrick

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Tom said:
[snip]
I'm not holding my breath for the U.S. to go metric any time soon.

But we are converting, slowly - inch by inch as someone noted above. Many of your auto parts are metric sizes, lots of grocery and other items sold by weight and volume are already packaged in grams, kilograms, and liters rather than ounces, pounds, and quarts. Things like building construction and land area will probably be the last things converted (if they ever are), but eventually it'll be cheaper for US importers to order everything in metric measurements instead of having foreign manufacturers make custom sizes for everything sold in the US, and it'll be cheaper for US manufacturers to convert to metric instead of building seperately for foreign and domestic markets.

On the other hand, I doubt I'll see us convert from miles to kilometers in my lifetime.
 

Ian

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As one who did my schooling in old units and then had to convert I can tell you that it wasn't all that easy. In fact there are still times I will talk in feet and yards, in pounds and stones. Hardly ever do I recall talking about gallons but I certainly cook in either pints or millilitres.

I left school in 69 which meant that most of my schooling and growing up was with LSD - Pounds Shillings and Pence. Australia converted to decimal currency in 66. 8 Farthings to a Penny. 12 Pence to a Shilling. 20 Shillings to a Pound. 21 Shillings to a Guinea. Can you imagine whaat it was like to do math using currency? OK, those that have suffered through the English school system would understand the frustration of trying to work with so many different units. Then came the simplicity of decimal currency and suddenly the work was made easier by a large margin. You could focus on the task instead of the conversion of units that didn't bear any relationship.

Metrication is a similar process of change. Fractions of an inch, feet, yards, furlongs, fathoms, miles, acres, it is all in incompatible units. Ounces, gills, pints, gallons, all incompatible. You have to work so hard on unit conversion that the process just takes so much more energy. Sure you get used to it but metric, after the initial phase in, is just so logical and sensible and yes, a heck of a lot easier to use that you wonder why we had to put up with all that grief at school.

I have now spent just over half my life living in a metric system, I'm 53 now. I can now think of how long a centimetre is, I can imagine a metre or a litre. Hectares still mean little to me but just as little as an acre might. If I se a piece of wood I know if it is a 25mm or 40 mm. I know that the ceiling is 2400 so I build my frame to match that. I know the plasterboard/drywall is around 13mm thick or else the particle board might be 18mm. It is just a matter of getting used to it.

Enjoy metrication. It will happen. It is too logical and easy to use and soon it will be your industry crying out for compatibility with the world.

Look at your auto industry. They got the message. Look at the efficiencies they have gained by logical units. It wont be there by 10 the next nmorning but it will happen.

I can tell if I am driving at 50 km/h or 60 km/h, I don't need to look at a speedo. It just takes getting used to. Even for old farts like me ;)
 

Rollie

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You know the old saying ... Give some people a centimeter and they will take a kilometer.  :)
Rollie
 

Tom

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LOL Ian, I too had to learn maths twice - using the LSD and imperial system, then decimal/metric. Not really tough for someone in an engineering discipline to convert, but the UK government had a long haul to educate the public at large. I recall the TV ads showing a 2 lb hag of sugar alongside a 1 kg bag and similar ones for various common household items. I also remember feeling short changed with some of the money conversion when prices in stores were rounded up to the nearest decimal currency number (no decimal equivalent for the sixpence, which equalled 2.5p, but there was no half penny in the new currency).

Like you, I thought metrication would happen in the U.S., but that was 25 years ago and I'm still waiting. In the 80's I chaired a large U.S. standards organization with some 50 technical commitees creating standards; We mandated metric conversion, but ran into the issue I mentioned earlier - that folks still thought in terms of existing tooling and merely showed the metric equivalent of the existing parameters alongside the original specs. Logic didn't enter into the equation.

As for km/hour, that's also going to be a long road.
 
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