Another View

The U.S. does some things incredibly well. Our Customer Service is probably the best in the world. We take it for granted that we can return things to Costco with no questions asked. We take it for granted that people at our bank or credit card company will be friendly and helpful. Whereas our experience of customer service over here suggests that the phrase “customer service” is an oxy-moron in France.

Hiking SignYet there are other things that they do much better here in Europe. One of those things is hiking signs. In France the hiking signs show both the distance and the estimated time to the destination.

I’ve always been frustrated by hiking signs in the U.S. which just give distance. Rocky paths take longer than smooth paths. Uphill trails take longer than flat trails. Distance alone is a relatively useless measure for planning your hike – it simply doesn’t give you the information you need. Whereas time is very useful. After a few hikes you know how fast you move relative to the signed times and adjust appropriately.

I’ve always assumed that the reason for not implementing a really useful system in the U.S. is a fear of being sued. Some person treats the estimated time as a guaranteed time and is caught out in the dark and sues. Or some such scenario.

SwissHikingSignSwitzerland goes even further and decides that distance is totally useless. The signs only give times to the destination. I love it. My kind of sign.

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