What can a camera do for you? Or radar?
I recently heard of a cyclist who is recovering from a hit-and-run collision. The cyclist wishes that he had a video camera to record a license number. And (though I heard this second-hand), he wishes that he had the camera for his safety. I know another cyclist who runs front and rear cameras every time he rides. He says the same thing about safety.
How might a camera increase your safety? Well, other road users might notice that you have a camera, and be more careful. But, cameras are small and might not be noticed. You might want to have a big sign on your back: “warning, security cameras in use.”
Cameras can help to point the finger of blame in the event of a crash. This goes too often though with a victim mentality, that crashes are unavoidable. Videos reflecting this perspective are all over the Web site of Cycliq, which specializes in cameras designed to record crashes. Better cycling skills could have prevented most of these crashes. Cycliq promotion states that “We're on a mission to make cycling safer and give you peace of mind when you're on the bike.” They could give you peace of mind that you will recover in a lawsuit or insurance claim.
Why not expand the tech? Linking a rear-view camera to a smartphone on the handlebar could give you a small rear view, without the need to look back. Just remember to look up for the traffic ahead! Video displays integrated into eyeglasses will probably be next.
After I have said all this, are you wondering how it is that my Safety Corner articles include so many videos?
Indeed, I have four high-definition action cameras. I could ride with cameras pointing forward and back, left and right! That’s a thought! The two older ones which don’t automatically deshake video haven’t been getting much use. I could fix the shake in post-production though.
Usually I can’t be bothered with all the tech. It’s already enough of a hassle to change into the right clothing –a jersey and shorts for a summer recreational ride, or layers for a winter errand – also the helmet and gloves. I have shredded a cycling glove on pavement more than once, leaving the palm of a hand intact.
I could have taken quite a few license-plate numbers over the years, of vehicles whose drivers are behaving badly in one way or another. But, the hassle…I use front and rear cameras on special occasions, when I have something I want to show. It is worth the trouble to me then.
One is on my helmet, the other on a rear rack that can clamp onto any bicycle, even a borrowed or rented bicycle when I travel. I have bolted a quick-release camera mount to that rack. I can stow my rear camera in a waist pack when I park the bicycle, and I bring the front one with my helmet.
Oh, I did happen to shoot video of one crash. My intention was to point out design issues with a shared-use path, and I got to show more than I had planned on.
It’s nice to feel protected and safe. Fine, run cameras all the time if you can afford the several hundred dollars, and you can manage the tech, and it makes you feel better.
But also, my helmet carries a little rear-view mirror, and a glance into it every few seconds keeps track of what is happening behind me in real time. It’s more informative than expensive Garmin radar and it’s cheap. You may read more about mirrors in my Safety Corner article on page 5 of the February, 2018 Wheelpeople.