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Repaint marks from kilometers to miles. A British-Czech activist says it’s part of our global culture

Lidovky.cz: Why did you find ARM?
I founded ARM at a time when the British government planned to spend 1 billion pounds (about 30 billion kroner) to redesign all 2.5 million road signs in Britain from miles, yards and feet to kilometers and metres. (in 2001 – editor’s note). The law seems clear. British signs must indicate distances in miles, yards, feet and inches only. However, some municipalities have started putting up signs in kilometers rather than miles, which is illegal. They did so before any legislation was passed. So we started eliminating these illegal brands, or repainting them for miles and yards.

British brand repainted.

British brand repainted.

Lidovky.cz: Is the recently announced return of the pound and ounce also a victory for ARM?
Our biggest victory was in February 2006, when Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced on the TV Show Question Time that the government had abandoned a plan to replace miles on road signs with kilometres. But the latest news on pounds and ounces is welcome, of course, because imperial units are still very popular in Britain: pints (for beer), length in feet and inches instead of centimeters, weight in stones (in pounds for young children), pizza for inches and so on. Many butchers still sell meat by the pound (Officially, they can still only do this in tandem with grams and kilograms – editor’s note.).

Lidovky.cz: To what extent do you think it will change everyday life in Britain? Probably not, but I would expect markets and trades to gradually return to pounds and ounces, as are miles and yards. We realize that the Imperial forces are part of our culture and our language. This was another reason for our struggle. As members of the European Union, we have lost part of our identity – and I say this partly as a Czech. My mother was Shlykova – I am a direct descendant of the Schlix who minted the Jáchymov tolar and also Jáchym Ondřej lik, who has a plaque in the Old Town Square.

Lidovky.cz: What activity is ARM planning for the future?

Now in August we have repainted many of the pedestrian signs in South Shropshire (West Birmingham County – Editor’s note) And during the fall we want to jump on Liverpool.

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