Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Shocked driving cat is… shocked!

When you’re minding your own business and out for a nice little drive in the country and see…

Cats Eyes Removed

You’re just…

Shocked Cat

Shocked Cat

08/07/2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bilingual signs given the ‘All clear’

Bilingual road signI’ve been watching developments stirring around the question of bilingual signs being used in Scotland.

In fact, it’s been well over two years, and I found the story of the how the question had arisen back then. Sadly, instead of a sensible discussion and analysis, much of the debate seems to have centred around they usual ‘council wars’, with one or other infighting faction furthering either the political agendas of its side, or the personal ambitions of the councillors. I asked: Who pays for bilingual road signs?

Although it could be interpreted as a literal question, that original question wasn’t completely intended that way, but was more of a metaphor or figure of speech, hinting at truth and relevance. As a result, I had to delete a comment added to that post, as it attempted to promote politically motivated views – and that’s one thing that doesn’t happen in this blog (unless I word things badly, because I’m not perfect.) Such comments always just slide straight through into the trash can.

At least there’s an arbiter in this case, with some sense being injected into the matter by Transport for Scotland:

Transport Scotland commissioned consultants TRL to review what effect bilingual signs may have on drivers.

In 2009, a government minister said there was anecdotal evidence of motorists performing u-turns on the carriageway after misreading the signs.

TRL said the signs may demand more attention, but did not increase risks.

Bilingual signs were installed on selected trunk roads in Scotland following a feasibility study in 2002.

The TRL study commissioned in 2009 was the first examination of what impact the signs may have on driver behaviour and accident rates.

In the newly published document, the consultants said: “The report suggests that while there is reasonable evidence to infer bilingual signs increase the demand of the driving task, drivers appear able to absorb this extra demand, or negate it by slowing down, which ultimately results in no detectable change in accident rates.

The findings went on to say that “Analysis of accident data in Scotland concurred with this conclusion, finding no evidence that accidents increased or decreased as a result of bilingual sign installation.”

I still think it was all a waste of time and money, simply because I have been holidaying in North Wales for almost two decades, and such signs are the norm there, not only on the road, but almost everywhere. As far I know, this never proved to be a problem, either for drivers, or for the traveller on foot

English-Gaelic road signs ‘not a crash risk’

03/09/2012 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Who pays for bilingual road signs?

Bilingual road signNoticing an article in the Dunoon Observer about new bilingual road signs on the A83 (at a reported cost of £125,000) reminded me that we’d covered this just over a year ago (and a year prior to that too), noting that the subject was one which was associated with a degree of controversy.

It seems bilingual signs have been part of a rolling installation programme which began on Skye back in 2002, and a remarkable £680,000 has been spent (or allocated) on the task since 2008/9. Seems like a terrible waste of money in these days when councils are supposed to be tightening their belts, paying to tear up a perfectly good road sign which is already in place, and replace it with another one that defies the trend to simplify road signs and reduce visual clutter.

It would seem to be more important to address Nationalistic desires to increase the profile of Gaelic with these signs, rather than road safety, as there are concerns that bilingual sign take longer for drivers to read and understand, leading to more time with their eyes off the road, which could lead to an accident. Even the unions aren’t too keen on the signs, seeing the cost savings that could have been made by abandoning them as a way for councils to cut costs, without cutting jobs.

On a more positive note, now that the signs are all but rolled out, Transport Scotland will be able to monitor their effect in the coming years, and see if the there are any more, or any less, accidents and fatalities on the roads where bilingual signs have been installed to replace English only originals. Annual assessments will be carried out at these sites, in order to determine their effect, if any.

Other than the appalling waste of money – replacing serviceable and perfectly acceptable road signs – I don’t have an issue, and provided lives are not lost as a result of their introduction, suspect their presence might even be something of a tourist attraction, as some of them come to see the “Funny Scotch words on their odd little road signs”. After all, I do the same when I visit Wales.

Come to think of it, since Wales already has these signs, couldn’t someone in the council or Transport Scotland have looked at Welsh road safety records where bilingual signs are used, and made a decision based on that, years ago, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to install these signs, and then wait to see if they kill people?

I do wonder if we will ever see the result of the Transport Scotland assessment of the these signs in future, or if the issue will quietly be forgotten.

Clearly, by the time the assessment figures become available for review, if the news is bad, ripping out the bilingual signs and replacing them with English only versions will be a million pound exercise, and what council or authority would want to face that (further) bill? They’re already strapped for cash and being forced to economise – their ‘pot’ roads will not be any larger in five or ten years’ time, and with the way roads are now being demonised, will almost certainly be smaller.

I did say this subject was associated with a degree of controversy.

24/04/2010 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Road signs – the union knows best

Bilingual road signI don’t mind admitting I have little time for unions – and one of their own TV adverts shows why. Presumably intended to show the evil boss ignoring the single downtrodden worker, it went on to show the good worker and union members clearing their throat to gain attention, but that throat clearing was depicted as an earthquake, as it was echoed by all the the other good union members.

If unions merely provided representation, I wouldn’t have a problem, but strikes, political affiliations, and involvement in things that are none of their business cause me concern.

A little over year ago, I noted that eight Caithness councillors had tried to stop bilingual road signs being installed in their area, and while they failed in their attempt, the issue highlighted a potential hazard as there was evidence from research which suggested that bilingual signs may cause accidents and that a report from a review of existing trunk road signage was due in 2011, and transport minister Stewart Stevenson noted that it would include the effect of current signs on roads controlled by local authorities.


It seems that “the union” knows better, and there is no need for this report.

A union has urged Highland Council to end “politically correct” initiatives such as bilingual Gaelic signage rather than cutting jobs. Unison spokesman Shane Manning said bilingual signage was one area where cuts could be made without job losses: “Unison Highland branch have a mandate from our membership to oppose bilingual signing. It may not be a vast amount of money but it’s one example of where money could be saved just now when there are more important things to be spending the money on.”

Since when does a union of office workers have a say in how the country’s road signs are deployed?

Is there really any significant cost saving in reducing the content of a road sign that s going to be produced anyway? the English only sign would presumably still be being manufactured and installed anyway, and I’ve nothing that indicates the existence of a scheme to remove and replace English only signs with bi-lingual version – which clearly would add to costs (and create jobs).

There’s another consideration – unlikely as it may be, that the report finds bilingual road signs actually have a positive effect, so the union would be calling for something that created a road hazard.

In reality, the 2011 report will most likely confirm that bilingual signs are a hazard, and the union could have won more Brownie Points if it had waited for the outcome of the report, and supported it with mandate to end the use of such signs, and the potential danger they present.

Guess we’re headed for the union blacklist now, and the pickets will be flying in.

03/07/2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bilingual signs may cause accidents

gaelsignA year ago, almost to the day oddly enough, we noted that eight Caithness councillors had tried to stop bilingual road signs being installed in their area, claiming they were a waste of money. Their motion was defeated by 36 votes to 29.

Seeking the opposite result from their colleagues in Caithness, Highland councillors have called for more English-Gaelic signs to be installed on their roads.

If nothing else, this just proves your scribe’s view that councillors and politics don’t know if they’re coming or going – both are supposed to look after our best interests, so with opposing requests, one must by definition be wrong, and should be booted out of office (so they’re both quite safe in their current jobs).

Transport minister Stewart Stevenson’s response to Highland Council observed that there was anecdotal evidence to the effect that the signs were causing motorists to make u-turns after misreading the signs. This is no great surprise as the makers of road signs, or those responsible for their installation, seem to think that the average driver is becoming incapable of comprehending where they are, or of what is around them, and road sign numbers are growing to the extend that they will soon be taking up road space, and their content is in danger of blanking out the sun.

Highland councillors want the Scottish Government to give “urgent consideration” to bilingual signs on the A9 north of Perth, also on the A96, through Inverness, so that the Gaelic language is brought to the attention of more people.

Hopefully this mad scheme will be thrown out, not because there is any issue with the bilingual aspect, but because it displays clear incompetence on the part of the Highland councillors, who should realise that the purpose of road signs is to provide information and warnings regarding the road, NOT to provide publicity for any pet language, or tourism boosters.

In case you chose to interpret that incorrectly as an anti-Gaelic point against the signs, then I should say that had they made the same proposition on the basis of assisting local speakers of Gaelic, or bi-lingual road users, then they would have been competent, and worthy of support. The incompetence is not in their signage, but their chosen reason for the signage.

However, another issue may overtake such considerations.

Accident studies

Transport minister Stewart Stevenson said previous research had shown that drivers spent longer reading bilingual signs than those in one language. He said there was anecdotal evidence of motorists unfamiliar with an area stopping on the main carriageway of trunk roads to read the signs, performing u-turns after misreading the directions and driving past hotels because they were concentrating on a bilingual sign. He added, “We do not know if these and similar incidents are having a negative impact on road safety over time and this can only be determined from detailed accident studies. Clearly it could be considered irresponsible not to evaluate the current policy.”

A report from a review of existing trunk road signage is due in 2011, and the minister noted that it would include the effect of current signs on roads controlled by local authorities.

07/03/2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Councillors fail to stop bilingual signs

gaelsignWhile some areas of Scotland are attempting to support Gaelic (the BBC has recently secured funding to begin digital services in Gaelic), other seem seem to be eager to wipe it from the face of earth.

Heading towards the north of the country, one of ‘signs’ that you have reached some of the most beautiful and isolated parts of he country is the appearance of English/Gaelic road signs (it’s a bit like arriving in North Wales, also gorgeous, but not quite so quiet, and where bilingual signs predominate).

In a bid which they claimed was based on a traditional view of the area being non-Gael, and that the signs were a waste of money, eight Caithness councillors tried to halt the bilingual signs being installed in their area, a move which was defeated by 36 votes to 29.

David Flear, former provost of Caithness, had said the policy needed to be looked at again and that people who lived in the area had traditionally been regarded as non-Gaels. Before Thursday’s meeting, he said: “Come on, let’s get real about this. This isn’t being anti-Gaelic, this is just reality and this is listening to people.

Guess the people spoke!

06/03/2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | 4 Comments


%d bloggers like this: