On 9th June 1977, the Queen officially opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway, a 21 km walking trail around central London to mark her Silver Jubilee, or 25 years on the throne. Thirty-three years later, work is under way to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a new 60 km walking trail, the Jubilee Greenway, providing walkers with a kilometre to walk for every year of the Queen’s reign.
Hugo Vickers, chairman of the Jubilee Walkway Trust, told the Evening Standard that “as soon as we at the Jubilee Walkway Trust heard that the Olympic Games would take place in London in 2012, the same year as the Diamond Jubilee, we dreamed up a new route for London, 60 kilometres — one for every year of the Queen’s reign — to help people walk to the main Olympic sites. It will also leave a lasting memorial to the Diamond Jubilee.”
The route will take in many of central London’s main sights as well as the Olympic Park at Stratford, and sections of the Thames Path, and will be marked with 60 illuminated beacons.
Sadly the 60 kilometres of the new trail will not actually be signed as such despite walkers’ reliance on kilometre-based Ordnance Survey mapping. This is due to the insistence of the Department for Transport (DfT) that, despite more than 30 years of metric teaching in schools, the British are not considered to be ready to see signs in metres and kilometres.
While some enlightened authorities erect informal signs in kilometres (understandable to British walkers and tourists alike) while others prefer to use signs that visitors can’t understand, the DfT is introducing yet a third system of hours and minutes for walking and cycling signs – which are of limited value to anybody not walking or cycling at the assumed speed (see this article).
Many others, knowing that foreign visitors are not familiar with imperial units, that journey times are useless for anyone slower or faster than the assumed speed, and that metric units are not permitted on official signs, choose to do without distances (or times) at all.
So two systems are permitted by the DfT, but not the one which is most readily understood by those who need to follow them.