UK Metric Association
|Formation||1999 (Constitution adopted in 2002)|
|Purpose||Promote metrication in the United Kingdom|
The UK Metric Association, or UKMA, is an advocacy group in the United Kingdom that argues for Metrication in the United Kingdom and aims to educate the general public in its way of thinking about the metric system. UKMA argues that the continued use of two incompatible systems of measurement causes misunderstanding, confusion and mistakes, undermines consumer protection, wastes children's education, results in additional costs and is against the national interest.
UKMA was founded by Chris Keenan in 1999 and formally associated in 2002 as an independent, non-party political, single-issue organisation. Later, an e-mail forum was started for supporters of metrication. In 2005, a website called ThinkMetric to help and encourage the general public to think in metric units was launched. In 2006, a blog called MetricViews was launched.
The current chairman is Robin Paice and the current secretary is Derek Pollard. Political patrons include Lord Kinnock (Lab), Lord Howe of Aberavon (Con), Lord Taverne (Lib Dem), Dr Nick Palmer (Lab) and Ian Taylor (Con).
One of UKMA's strategies, aimed at getting their message to a wider audience including journalists and researchers, is to use Wikipedia as a conduit for their information. In an article in their December 2008 newsletter, members were urged to "correct any inaccuracies" in Wikipedia articles. It told about the "bias and inaccuracy" in metrication related articles, including Metrication in the United Kingdom, and highlighted the importance of "keeping an eye on them [metrication articles], visiting them regularly and checking that nobody has reversed any changes that you have made."
UKMA has released two major reports, aimed at stimulating discussion in Britain about completing the transition to international standard units:
- A very British mess (ISBN 0-7503-1014-6, 2004) is a survey of the use of units in the United Kingdom and the ways in which confusion can arise from the simultaneous use of two systems. It has also been used as a campaign slogan similarly.
- Metric signs ahead (ISBN 978-0-9552351-0-8, 2006) from February 2006 focuses on road signs, the last major area where current UK legislation mandates the use of miles, yards, feet and inches. The report estimates that the total cost of switching all of the UK's estimated 500,000 traffic signs from miles, yards and miles per hour to kilometres, metres and kilometres per hour would be £80 million (£160 per sign, including installation), of which £20 million would be for 200,000 speed limit signs. It argues that while, for safety reasons, all speed signs would have to be changed during a very short transition period (a few days), other road signs and markings that indicate distances or height restrictions could be changed more gradually, often in the course of routine maintenance.
In 2009, UKMA published an update to Metric Signs Ahead, which reflects the changes that have happened since the publication of the Metric Signs Ahead report. In the same year, UKMA published a traffic signs leaflet called Traffic Signs 2.0, which recommends changes to UK road signs to improve clarity, legibility and safety by using universally understood symbols and units of measurement.
The aims of UKMA contrast with those of the British Weights and Measures Association (BWMA), which campaigns against compulsory Metrication in the United Kingdom and advocates the continued use of imperial measures.
- Metric Martyrs – a group of English greengrocers who were convicted for using unapproved scales
- US Metric Association – the US metrication advocacy group that inspired the founding of the UKMA
- 'Call for metric road sign switch' BBC News, 2006-02-23
- 'Campaign for £80m switch to kilometres', The Guardian, 2006-02-23, p. 6