home

The NY Times gives helmet cams their due

Posted by on July 24th, 2012 at 1:37 am

A major story in the New York Times about people wearing helmet cams while riding has sparked a national dialogue (at least in the bike world) about documenting the daily commute. The trend toward using helmet cams as a last resort for traffic justice has been going on for years and — thanks to smaller, better, and cheapers cameras — has exploded recently.

Back in February 2011, in Helmet cams for justice and for advocacy, I shared how two Portlanders put on-board cameras to use on our local streets to document dangerous conditions. Then last month, I shared how southwest Portland resident Andrew Holtz has built up an impressive collection of on-bike camera footage via his YouTube channel — especially the dangerous intersection up on Highway 26 at Sylvan.

It turns out riders all over the U.S. are doing the same thing. Here’s a snip from the NY Times article:

“Now small cameras — the cycling equivalent of the black box on an airplane — are becoming an intermediary in the relationship, providing high-tech evidence in what is sometimes an ugly contest between people who ride the roads on two wheels and those who use four.

Video from these cameras has begun to play an invaluable role in police investigations of a small number of hit-and-runs and other incidents around the country, local authorities say. Lawyers who specialize in representing bicyclists say they expect the use of cameras for this purpose to increase as awareness of the devices goes up and their prices, now starting at around $200, come down.”

I’ve yet to hear of such footage being used in a local bicycle traffic case here in Portland, but it’s only a matter of time. Especially with guys like southeast Portland resident Mark Allyn around. At a recent bike event he told me he’s now equipped with two cameras — in order to capture the front and rear views.

Mark Allyn’s set up.
(Photo: Mark Allyn)

Mark installed his two Contour cameras back in May, after he saw a rider get hit right in front of him. “In that case, the motorist was going slowly and did stop,” he wrote via email yesterday, “The cyclist was not seriously injured and rode off after exchanging papers with the motorist and the police.” That collision was amicable; but it got Mark thinking; What if it was a hit-and-run? “One thing led to another and I made the decision to make the plunge and get the cameras.”

Mark velcros the two cameras to his helmet and puts a plastic cover over them when it rains. It’s like having eyes in the back of his head.

The Times article will likely only catapult this trend into the stratosphere. Like bar-mounted GPS units, power meters (for racers), and ultra-bright lights, I suspect tiny cameras from companies like GoPro and Contour will become much more common for everyday riding. Will they lead to more safety, sanity, and justice on our streets? We can only hope for a similarly positive trend.

What about you? Do you roll with cameras for everyday riding? What do you think about these pedaling video-vigilantes?

Email This Post Email This Post


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • tom July 24, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Could just as easily go both ways. As a PDX native, I can say that car-mounted cameras would give daily examples of how cyclists in this city literally beg motorists to kill them, and expect universal deference on the road while refusing to accept any degree of personal responsibility.

    I’m a cyclist (and motorist) myself, ride regularly in and around downtown, and am completely opposed to the bicycle advocacy movement. More bike lanes and obscure things like “bike boxes” only make the road more dangerous for cyclists, a bigger liability for motorists, and create severe points of contention between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Chris I July 24, 2012 at 8:05 am

      The bike lane and bike box at 57th and Sandy make my commute faster and safer every day. I use the bike lane to pass a half mile of idling cars, and the bike box positions me in front of the lead car so I do not get right-hooked when the light changes.

      Recommended Thumb up 25

    • Ron July 24, 2012 at 8:05 am

      “…expect universal deference on the road while refusing to accept any degree of personal responsibility”? That sounds like most motorists I encounter every day who become outraged if they are delayed by 4 seconds if I have to take the lane. Most cyclists are cautious and ride defensively. Your attitude ignores the vast majority of daily motorosts who drive to fast, blow through stop signs and creat hazards for pedestrians and cyclists.

      Recommended Thumb up 23

      • Chucklehead July 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

        I encourage you to watch the bike boulevard in front of my house. It may change your mind as to “the majority of cyclists”.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

        “…the vast majority of daily motorosts who drive to fast, blow through stop signs and creat hazards for pedestrians and cyclists.” Ron

        Not even close to being accurate. It’s a small percentage of people driving their vehicles irresponsibly. People that drive or travel in motor vehicles are 90-95 percent of the people on the road, making a small percentage of their number committing violations, possibly to some people, seeming to be a greater percentage than they actually are.

        On the other hand, people traveling by bike in U.S. cities represent a very small percent of road traffic; maybe 10 percent at best, yet the percentage of those that do travel by bike and commonly, flagrantly disregard even basic, safe and responsible maneuvering in traffic would seem to be more than a small percentage. Especially in some parts of town. Car-cams might be effective in giving some idea of how common bad traffic cycling is.

        People love gadgets. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many people driving begin adding dash cams and rear deck cams to their list of car accessories.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Richard Allan July 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

          “Not even close to being accurate . . .”

          The City of Portland says 80% of cars coming to a stop sign fail to come to a full stop.
          And try driving the posted speed limit (50 mph) through the Terwilliger curves on I-5 and tell us how the majority of drivers don’t speed.

          Recommended Thumb up 6

          • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

            What Ron said, was ‘blowing’ stop signs. I suppose he would be generally referring to passing through signed intersections either at speed, or at a speed faster than an ordinary walk, not ‘rolling’ stop signs…2-3 mph, which, while city stats on that may be accurate, is fairly common to many vehicle road users, and seems generally considered to be not a big hazard.

            Excessive speeds on highways such as Barbur Blvd, I-5, 217; True, there’s chronic over-speeding on roads such as those. On roads elsewhere, I’d say that most people that drive stay reasonably within 5 mph of the speed limit. It’s the small percentage of the great number of motor vehicles used on the street that could potentially create a perception that a greater percentage of people operating motor vehicles does so irresponsibly, than actually do.

            Simple fact is, with streets and roads being under pressure to serve great volumes of vehicles and other road users, only a minimum of violations and speeding can be handled before the ability of the road to function begins to break down. For roads and streets to function optimally, traffic has to flow smoothly and consistently. For that to happen, the more road users doing what they’re supposed to, the better the roads can work. Not to get off the bike-car cam subject; used to watch road user activity, I think vehicle cams could be a great small start to improving roadway functionality.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

            • Chris I July 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

              “Passing through a stop sign at speed” is not a fair comparison, because of the speed differential between the different modes. Are you just playing devil’s advocate here?

              Recommended Thumb up 4

              • 9watts July 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

                Are you just playing devil’s advocate here?

                that was a rhetorical question, right?

                Recommended Thumb up 3

              • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

                “Passing through a stop sign at speed”…” Chris I

                Variations of that phrase, ‘Passing through a stop sign at speed.’, are some I’ve read here at bikeportland and elsewhere that people have used to describe blowing through stop signs at various unspecified speeds faster than a normal walk, rather than rolling them. Pick your own speed.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • Chris I July 25, 2012 at 6:57 am

                  Sure thing. If I’m riding a bike, and I blow a stop sign “at speed”, that speed is going to be 15 mph. If I’m driving, and I blow a stop sign “at speed”, that speed is going to be between 25 and 45mph. In this situation, the car would have over 40 times the force of the bike, if it were to hit something while blowing a sign “at speed”. This is why you can’t compare the two.

                  Recommended Thumb up 3

          • Over and Doubt July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

            Source document name/link, please? Would love to be able to quote it.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Hooper July 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm

            And yet that is still better than the 90 of 105 cyclists who “ignored” a 4-way stop in San Francisco.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 9:47 am

              Better in raw percentage, but likely far worse in terms of destructive force being carelessly flung around. In my admittedly limited understanding, Newton’s second law seems to suggest that in a California-rolling-stop situation, a car carries at least 20 times the force to maim and kill our loved ones.

              And that’s what we’re really interested in, right? Safety for our loved ones and ourselves, rather than some kind of scorekeeping? (I know that’s why *I* cam.) Make no mistake, *everybody* ought to stop. But make the biggest safety threat the primary target.

              Recommended Thumb up 4

          • chucklehead July 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

            And because molecules are always moving, a car never comes to rest either.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

              And nor do the molecules of its occupants, killed in a head-on with another car. So no harm, no foul? Explains a lot.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

          • ScottB July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm

            Who in the City of Portland – PBOT specifically?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Richard Allan July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm

              Look at my response above, linking to Joseph Rose on OLive. Yes, PDOT specifically.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Ron July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

          “It’s a small percentage of people driving their vehicles irresponsibly. ”

          Really? Come to NE Fremont (or virtually any street in Portland) at almost any hour and watch the vast majority of cars rolling through at far above the 20mph limit and ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. Or watch them pass illegally on the right (infringing into the bike lane) on NE 47th. These are predictable and rampant daily occurrences. The consequences of aggressive and incompetent driving are incomparably greater to cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists. Dangerous cyclists most often suffer their own consequences.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm

            “Really? Come to NE Fremont (or virtually any street in Portland) at almost any hour and watch the vast majority of cars rolling through at far above the 20mph limit and ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. …” Ron

            You say: “…virtually any street in Portland…”? “…at almost any hour…? the vast majority of cars rolling through at far above the 20mph limit and ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. …”. Sorry…what you say isn’t believable. A little heavy on the hyperbole, maybe. Sounds extraordinary for sure, if true. Maybe you could document that somehow to prove your claim.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

              No, Bob, it’s quite accurate, based on what’s apparent in cam footage and what I’ve since come to recognize in real time. Even though you ride a bike (I think?), you most likely have a bit of carhead going on, where you no longer discern the lawbreaking (including your own) that constantly surrounds us. I sympathize; it’s tough to stave off that mindset. (And yes, bike lawbreaking is constant as well.)

              Take the red pill, Neo.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • q`Tzal July 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm

                Bikes don’t break laws.
                Cars don’t break laws.
                People break laws.

                Kill a weed at its roots and it dies, pluck off the seeds or cut off parts and it only persists and spreads. Choose your target wisely.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

    • spare_wheel July 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

      i am tired of all those scofflaw cyclists and pedestrians killing motorists. its gotten so bad out there that i am afraid to get into my 2-5 ton metal vehicle.

      Recommended Thumb up 40

      • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        With that level of fantasizing, it’s no wonder you’re tired.

        I hope you don’t think it’s okay for scofflaw cyclists to make driver’s road experience a nerve wracking one of close calls and near misses. That is the typical kind of thing people obliged to drive experience anxiety over, given the difficulty many people that bike pose to other road users by not equipping their bikes with visibility enhancing gear, and by disregarding basic safe, responsible maneuvering in traffic.

        Car-cams could help to document the often near invisibility to road users, many people on bikes pose. Footage of people on bikes from the vantage point of a person behind the wheel of a car could help to widen awareness of the importance of bikes being equipped with reflective materials and lighting, and for those riding bikes to signal adequately for lane changes, stops and turns. Could make for another great NYTimes story.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • dbunny July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm

          …like me being two inches from being right hooked from a car this morning. The fact is that both cyclists and motorists have a fraction of their population who do not obey traffic laws. Let’s stop pointing fingers and focus on how to make the road safer for everyone.

          Recommended Thumb up 4

          • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 9:38 am

            Agreed, though intensely objective observation—such as cam footage—does seem to suggest that those fractions are pretty danged big…for *all* modes.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • El Biciclero July 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

          “I hope you don’t think it’s okay for scofflaw cyclists to make driver’s road experience a nerve wracking one of close calls and near misses.”

          It’s not “OK”, as in nobody should do it on purpose, but I hope you don’t think it’s OK for scofflaw–or just incompetent–drivers to make a cyclist’s road experience a nerve-wracking one of close calls and near misses. This sentiment goes both ways; why should cyclists be expected to bear the extra burden of “helping” motorists do what they should be trained to do in the first place? Again, not that it isn’t a good idea, but why does the focus always seem to be on cyclists to go above and beyond, learn “tricks”, and practice “evasive cycling” while drivers can, if they choose, go on driving in an oblivious cloud without any such expectation? Especially when, as spare_wheel points out, screw-ups by drivers–not cyclists–are the things that will kill other people. We need to put some of the expectation to go above and beyond back on those that can do the most damage by being allowed and expected to scrape by on less than the minimum. Yielding to cyclists in bike lanes is not going above and beyond, it is the bare minimum legal requirement. Keeping to the speed limit is not going above and beyond, it is the bare minimum. Sure, there are a couple of rules that many cyclists break all the time, but why do folks not only get upset and want cyclists to obey the rules–they want cyclists to go beyond the rules. Wear a safety vest! Stay off “dangerous” streets! Don’t ride where there is no bike lane! Run lights at all times! Get fatter tires! Yield to everyone, even when you have the right-of-way!

          Recommended Thumb up 3

          • wsbob July 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

            “It’s not “OK”, as in nobody should do it on purpose, but I hope you don’t think it’s OK for scofflaw–or just incompetent–drivers to make a cyclist’s road experience a nerve-wracking one of close calls and near misses. …” El Biciclero

            It wasn’t me that made the ‘scofflaw cyclists killing motorists’ wisecrack that spare_wheel and others seem to think is so hysterically funny. So don’t expect me to answer some dopey rhetorical question that seems intended for no other purpose than to insult.

            “…why should cyclists be expected to bear the extra burden of “helping” motorists do what they should be trained to do in the first place? …” El Biciclero

            Extra burden? You either must be joking, or something worse. People using the road cannot reasonably be expected to be aware of other people and things on the road that cannot be seen.

            The discussion of cyclist visibility and reasons its a responsibility of people that bike to attend to…rather than of the people that drive…, has been discussed numerous times in stories and comments to bikeportland. I recall your name attached to some of those comments, so I imagine you read the stories and comments, and hopefully thought about what they talked about.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

              Bob? “…things on the road that cannot be seen”? *Everything* on the road can be seen; The Invisible Man and cloaked Romulan warbirds are strictly sci-fi. You’ll likely find little tactical advantage in abandoning rationality.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • wsbob July 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

                “…*Everything* on the road can be seen; The Invisible Man and cloaked Romulan warbirds …” Over and Doubt

                Not true. People on bikes generally tend to be much more difficult to for road users to see than motor vehicles. Multiple lights on bikes and person, rather than just the front and back reflector or light, help a lot to enhance bike visibility, but that use isn’t yet widespread. The bright day-glo-reflective gear helps increase bike visibility too; also yet to be widespread in use.

                For a lot of the people riding about on bikes, description of the visibility they present is met quite well by the Invisible Man and cloaked Romulan warbird reference, especially in the dark and rainy conditions we have a lot of.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • Over and Doubt July 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

                  Yes, conditions sometimes reduce visibility—but never, ever eliminate it, assuming you’re not breaking the law by driving without headlights. That’s why Oregon’s basic speed rule exists: As conditions dictate, slow the hell down.

                  But Bob, at least you’ve returned to the land of the rational—declaring things “difficult…to see” instead of asserting that they “cannot be seen.” Welcome back!

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • wsbob July 26, 2012 at 12:50 am

                  “Yes, conditions sometimes reduce visibility—but never, ever eliminate it, …” Over and Doubt

                  Oh alright Mr. Picky… ; not ‘eliminate’ it, but the reality I’m talking about is a level of visibility so low, it’s not functionally adequate in a road or traffic situation. Fine maybe to sit around at Thanksgiving to play ‘Where’s Waldo’, but not good enough to indicate presence to other road users in their car or on their bike, preparing to make such maneuvers as entering roads from intersections and driveways, and making turns.

                  Seriously…visually, people on bikes can virtually disappear against the busy mosaic of forms and shapes in many types of road and traffic situations. That’s the idea behind camouflage that hunters and soldiers use to hide their presence from others, except in that context, it’s intentional. Deer and birds know this secret too. They can disappear into surroundings they’re located within. Except for extended viewing, only movement belies their presence.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

            • El Biciclero July 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

              “Extra burden? You either must be joking, or something worse. People using the road cannot reasonably be expected to be aware of other people and things on the road that cannot be seen.”

              There’s a little bit of ambiguity in the term “cannot be seen”. Many times it really means “did not look for”.

              Cyclists should use lights at night. That’s the law. Should cyclists be expected to shell out for expensive lights that are bright enough to be seen during the day? That’s extra burden. Should cyclists wear hot plastic reflective or day-glo vests at all times? That’s an extra burden. Cyclists should follow rules of the road regarding stopping and signalling, yielding when legally appropriate, etc. Should cyclists be expected to always make “pedestrian” left turns? Only ride where there is a bike lane? Go out of their way to find “safe” routes? That’s extra burden.

              Again, I’m not saying going above and beyond isn’t a good idea for self-preservation, but when a legally operating cyclist gets run over, we can’t let drivers off the hook because the cyclist wasn’t using 700-lumen DRL and wearing day-glo reflective gear, as though those were requirements. Drivers need to L-O-O-K. Pe-ri-od. Not casually happen to notice because cyclists are festooned like parade floats everywhere they go.

              And really, I don’t think anyone finds one class of road user killing another to be “hilariously funny”. What is funny in a non-ha-ha way is that we think cyclists are the ones that need to bear the burden of extra caution while drivers don’t.

              Recommended Thumb up 6

              • wsbob July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm

                “…There’s a little bit of ambiguity in the term “cannot be seen”. Many times it really means “did not look for”. …” El Biciclero

                Generally…for the most part…people that drive have to be and are constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for ahead of, to the sides of and behind the vehicle, in order to operate it safely.

                If people on bikes were as big as motor vehicles and presented the same level and type of visibility to other road users as is presented by most motor vehicles, ease of seeing people on bikes would be similar to that of seeing motor vehicles. That’s not the way it is.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • 9watts July 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

                  If people on bikes were as big as motor vehicles and presented the same level and type of visibility to other road users as is presented by most motor vehicles, ease of seeing people on bikes would be similar to that of seeing motor vehicles. That’s not the way it is.

                  wsbob,
                  sure, but whose responsibility is it to take note of smaller-than-car-sized objects? What I hear you saying is that the burden falls on the people riding bikes (or walking for that matter). Your frame of reference is always the car. I hear El Biciclero asking why that should be so.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • wsbob July 26, 2012 at 12:04 am

                  “…but whose responsibility is it to take note of smaller-than-car-sized objects? …” 9watts

                  It’s the responsibility of all road users to take note of smaller-than-car-sized objects, as you’ve described people riding bikes, but it’s the responsibility of people riding bikes to equip themselves, despite they’re relatively small size, such that they can be visible to other road users…and so, be taken note of.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

        • spare_wheel July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

          i very much wish tens of thousands of violent deaths each year were merely “fantasy”.

          ” I hope you don’t think it’s okay for scofflaw cyclists…”

          peer-reviewed studies show that driving more slowly greatly reduces cyclist-associated fear and anxiety.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

      “…car-mounted cameras…” tom

      There’s potential in car mounted cameras, for recording violations made by other road users, but also by the camera user, if the camera’s footage were stored in a device that didn’t allow a person operating a vehicle so equipped, to readily delete incriminating footage; maybe once a week, that sort of time period.

      Right to privacy issues are a critical issue, but if the law allowed law enforcement access to car-cam footage, limited to only brief minutes or seconds preceding a collision, that might work.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • q`Tzal July 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        Or the fine print in the auto insurance states your written agreement to allow access to footage pertaining to and leading up to an incident.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • cycler July 24, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I have to admit I threw down my paper in disgust after reading the beginning of the fourth paragraph:

    “Cyclists have long had a rocky coexistence with motorists and pedestrians, who often criticize bike riders for a confrontational attitude, and for blowing through stop signs or otherwise exempting themselves from the rules of the road.”

    I mean WTF- what do scofflaw cyclists have to do with this article? It was like they had to put something anti-bike in the piece to be “fair and balanced.”

    I don’t personally use a camera, and don’t feel like I have a need for it, but I mostly bike in dense urban environments with lots of eyes on the street.

    Recommended Thumb up 17

    • Spiffy July 24, 2012 at 8:07 am

      yes, they could have easily said “Motorists have long had a rocky coexistence with cyclist and pedestrians, who often criticize motorists for a confrontational attitude, and for blowing through stop signs or otherwise exempting themselves from the rules of the road.” but for some reason they chose to make cyclists the bad guys…

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • 9watts July 24, 2012 at 6:51 am

    “I’ve yet to hear of such footage being used in a local bicycle traffic case here in Portland…”

    Not quite a helmet cam, but I’m remembering a story here of a fellow on a bike who was run into by a woman in an SUV on Barbur (I’m thinking it was near or perhaps in the intersection with Hamilton?–I tried but couldn’t find the story in the archives). The woman claimed the cyclist came out of nowhere or failed to yield, or something familiar like that. The police believed her and cited him. Once home, the fellow on the bike remembered that his GPS was turned on and would have recorded info that might confirm his version of the story. And it did. I don’t remember exactly how it turned out, but I think this comes pretty close to what the NYT is talking about.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Spiffy July 24, 2012 at 8:35 am

      I remember that story as well… I think the cyclist was cleared… can’t find the story any more though…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Andrew Holtz July 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Here’s Jonathan’s write up of the case of GPS data backing cyclist Ryan Sabga’s account of what actually happened when a driver hit him.
      http://bikeportland.org/2010/12/21/from-colorado-a-story-of-gps-justice-44858

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • 9watts July 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

        Thanks, Andrew.
        Funny. I came across that story in the search results a bunch this morning but for some reason (mis)remembered it as having occurred on Barbur so didn’t read the story.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ron G. July 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Video evidence will give the lie to the standard get-out-of-jail-free cards drivers whip out. “I just didn’t see him” will become “I was texting my golf buddy for a tee-time”, and “He came out of nowhere” will be revealed as “I was eating a cheeseburger while fending off my dog with the other hand”. When incidents are presented in full-color, with replay capability, the lame excuses that traditionally release drivers from responsibility will evaporate.

    This is a great thing, and there’s nothing vigilante about it. A vigilante would carry a valve-core remover (cars don’t seem so tough with no air in the tires), or, if they’re ambitious, an electro-magnetic pulse generator (I’ll admit it–I’d really like one of those). A camera is just a way of gathering evidence, not taking the law into your own hands.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Chucklehead July 24, 2012 at 11:42 am

      The only problem is that cyclists will only present the videos that put them in a good light. I doubt they will offer up video showing that they may actually be at fault.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Spiffy July 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I just got a camera and am about to mount it up and start recording so that I can upload offending footage to youtube for the world to see…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jerko July 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I bet all that stuff strapped to the helmet voids the warranty.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • are July 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

      the helmet is mostly useful only as a platform for the mirror (and the camera) anyway.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Pete July 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        I thought they were to prevent cars from hitting you?

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Nate July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm

          Or at least to make it their fault when they did. It’s clearly not the driver’s fault when you DON’T have a helmet on.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • El Biciclero July 27, 2012 at 8:44 am

          No, they’re to make you look weird and “extreme” so people don’t feel as bad when you get run over.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tom July 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

    The Kodak PlaySport cameras are super tough, waterproof and near $100. I’ve used it on helmet or handlebars with good results. it has an LCD monitor, but not all vidcams do.
    Helmet mounting absorbs some of the vibrations and the wider angle lens is a must (plus very light weight)..this one, at least, will switch to still picture mode when needed .
    Have never regretted its purchase…Walmart had best price.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Morgan July 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

    This makes me a bit sad. Does this mean that those of us without cameras on our bikes/helmets are automatically assumed guilty since we don’t have any documentation to prove our innocence? I think riding in urban areas *should* mean that there are other people around who are able to vouch for what happened in an accident. I get why people are doing it but I think it sucks we have gotten here.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Chris I July 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

      This is just like the bright light issue. As more and more cyclists use blindingly bright lights, those with still legal, but comparatively dimmer lights could potentially be blamed for not being visible enough.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • 9watts July 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

        Except I think there is also an intermediate position.
        This is a dynamic problem where the person riding a bicycle is, it would seem, less often believed than the guy in the car. With time and more cameras this I think could change. As the general public comes to appreciate the nuances of these incidents, or the ubiquity with which traffic participants regardless of mode break rules, endanger others, I think it is conceivable that
        - everyone starts to behave better, or
        - pat dismissals of what the person on a bike said won’t fly anymore.

        Would it have made a difference, if, for instance, Christeen Osborn had a rear facing helmet cam? I understand and appreciate the slippery slope this could represent but I also think it might in the short run help in all sorts of ways, some of which we may not even have discovered or realized yet.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Pete July 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      I think we’ve always been here. I could have used one a few weeks ago when a driver who was stopped at a green light decided to take a (banned) right turn in front of me without looking. (The rider behind me pointed out it was banned; I wouldn’t have caught that otherwise). I emptied my lungs and channeled TdF-like cornering skills to turn with him, but a video of him turning right (without signaling) showing the No Right Turn sign would have been invaluable if anything had happened. Not that I’m going to run out and buy a helmetcam just yet as a result, but I think this is a tool to turn the tides.

      I don’t know what the justice would have been if I’d have hit that BMW (note: “if I’d have hit him” – of course it would be written up that way regardless of his failure to signal or yield right of way). I’m betting with a cam it would have been more or less indisputably in my favor – and any publicity (like this article) that might come from it would generally be in the favor of cyclists. People who don’t ride might read an article like this and say we just suffer from a persecution complex, but a mass awareness of this tool in our favor may cause more people to think twice before mis-timing a right turn or taking other such chances with a bike rider.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • ScottG July 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

    For people considering buying one of these cameras, one of the most important features to get is an extremely wide angle lens. This will help keep your video images stable when you’re moving around or going over bumps. Otherwise there will be too much shake to make out things like license plates.

    IMO the GoPro cameras with their 170-degree lenses are currently the best in this regard. The latest generation Countour cameras are pretty good too, but don’t bother with older models.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Byron July 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I have an Oregon Scientific camera mounted on my helmet. I try and record all my commuting just in case. I talked to a wonderful police officer yesterday, she pulled up next to me at a light, and she asked if it was a video camera. I replied “yes” and mentioned that it was there so they could figure out what happened when a driver decided 10 seconds was worth running me over. She thought it was a good idea and thanked me. Not sure all the police feel the same, but my ride was brightened by the thought that many of them care about what happens to us.

    And yes, I have many clippings of drivers doing bad things. I ride routes that I feel are safer but feel that it still has stupid drivers doing illegal and stupid things.

    And, for those who think that bicyclists are always breaking the law. Look around, most drivers break the law. Just not the one cyclists break, except that I see very few drivers actually stopping at stop signs, and the number of drivers that run red lights when they can is huge. So get rid of the bicyclist who break the law, but also the drivers. I will have a wonderful commute!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Rol July 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Oh heck yeah, and cops just love evidence in general. It makes their job a lot easier.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Pete July 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Oh the irony… drivers running red lights is why cities spend money to buy cameras too.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Livellie July 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I like the camera idea a lot. A couple of years ago I was side swiped in my car by a guy in another vehicle who didn’t stop. I had my camera in my front seat and was able to take a picture of the back of his vehicle and his license plate. Between the information and detail in the photo and an eye witness in another vehicle, the Portland Police were able to track down the guy and hold him accountable. Without the photo, I know I wouldn’t have been able to remember the plate number or have much of a clue as to the make and model of his car. It’s just too hard to remember all that stuff in the heat of the moment…at least for me.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Over and Doubt July 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Got a GoPro as a birthday present. Been camming for a few weeks now. Seems to make drivers behave better. I often get a pointing, waving, go-ahead kind of treatment; happy times, more often. Maybe they think I’m the Google guy.

    Beware, though: The camera also influences *the wearer* to be exemplary in courtesy and compliance. (Maybe that’s a factor in the happy-times uptick.) Not beneficial to film yourself breaking the law.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Over and Doubt July 24, 2012 at 10:04 am

    But, er, I take issue with “vigilantes.” The footage is intended to support due process, not pre-empt it.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mark Allyn July 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I agree with Over and Doubt. I find myself far more careful with myself and my own behavior since I got those cameras. I know now that I am being watched.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Andrew Holtz July 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Mark… I agree. I’m sometimes embarrassed by what seem to be my overreactions when I review video after my adrenalin has ebbed. And I’m careful make sure I am doing my best to follow traffic rules before accusing others.

      By the way, I don’t use any sort of rain cover and my ContourHD cam has weathered the Portland winters without problems.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Mark Allyn July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

        Andrew:

        Thanks for the heads up. That’s good to know about the Contours!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ivan July 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I have a camera but I often neglect to use it. The problem is that I often forget to charge it or to delete the videos (and it gets full pretty quickly). Ideally, I should have a routine of deleting and recharging every night, but it’s a hassle and apparently I’m not disciplined enough.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sunny July 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Drivers not passing with enough room? Mount a gopro facing backwards prominently on your seat post.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Over and Doubt July 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Which begs the question: Would you get the same benefit with placebo—that is, a look-alike dummy-cam in a GoPro mount?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Sunny July 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

        In that case one can buy one of those faux shoulder mounted cameras made of cardboard or paper mache and make it obvious.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K'Tesh July 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve started riding with a GoPro on the handlebars… caught a couple of close calls aready…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50NAgOM_JK4&feature=plcp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edv08nOUCSQ&feature=plcp

    I’m looking for a smaller system that includes five cameras (helmet, handlebar, rear, left and right). Technomoan has reviews on some keychain camera’s that have my interest, but they still aren’t waterproof.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dan July 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    A camera would also give you fabulous footage of all the shenanigans that other cyclists get up to. I REALLY wish I had footage of the guy who biked around a car stopped at the stop sign to enter Ladd Circle, then went full speed through the stop, cutting off the woman crossing the street pushing a stroller.

    I also wish I had footage of the guy on the fashion bike who passed me skitching on a car…only to get pulled over by a cop 2 blocks down the road. That guy knew how to bring the LOLs.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Jolly Dodger July 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve noticed while wearing my helmet cam, the drivers give more room and are in general a little more pleasant to ride near. This happens weather the camera is actually in use or just mounted to appear so. It can record, stand-by or be off fully. As with any tool of this kind though, there are those who do not want to be ‘caught on tape’. There is known in the court systems the concept of “reasonable expectation of privacy”. This being said and knowing we’re all on film most of the time regardless, the site known as photography-is-not-a-crime-dot-com helps lend a critical voice to the way law enforcement often chooses to deal with citizen videographers. Most likely when a motorist is caught with his finger in his nostril as #drivernosepick on YouTube.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Ted July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Where do you mount the camera to get this effect of greater deference? Like an alien antennae at the middle-top of the helmet?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Over and Doubt July 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm

        Correct–mid-top to rear-top of the helmet, so it’s an obvious part of your profile from back, side and front. Also, the extra weight is more comfy that way compared to forward on your helmet.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Al from PA July 25, 2012 at 8:46 am

      When you are in public (on the street, in a car, etc.) your image is in the public domain–thus you can be photographed, and your image freely disseminated in venues (magazines, films, etc.), where otherwise a consent form (and contract) would be required. This is why the paparazzi can ply their trade: they photograph their subjects only in public.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dwainedibbly July 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    One on the helmet facing forward, one on the seatpost facing rearward. Mrs Dibbly wants to win big in court.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pete July 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Video footage is handy, but it’d be nice to overlay it with timestamp and speed info. I wrote to Contour and Oregon Scientific a while back and told them about my idea for an ANT+-compatible video overlay that could be used for training (i.e. power, HR, speed, cadence). Could be used for safety/vigilance as well? Just an idea, maybe more trouble technically/financially than it’s worth.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Andrew Holtz July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      The ContourHD GPS camera that I have can display a map inset with time and speed info when played back in the Contour software. Or the GPS data in the video file can be accessed by other software. However, I often have trouble getting a GPS lock in the hills.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 9watts July 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The comparison to a black box in the article is interesting but I don’t think entirely accurate. A black box in an airplane records information internal to the vehicle, which after a crash can be analyzed in search of clues: conversations, noises, perhaps even instrument readings.

    A helmet cam, if switched on, records information external to the ‘vehicle,’ which after a crash can be analyzed with an eye to possible actions by other traffic participants or conditions that threatened or endangered others.

    This is a bit like the seatbelts vs helmets distinction. Seatbelts tend to protect the occupants of a car from the dangers their own speed entails, and secondarily from dangers emanating from other cars. Helmets (see the Netherlands) primarily protect those of us on bikes from people driving who aren’t paying attention to us or never learned how to drive in the presence of human powered traffic.

    As the recent and I thought very interesting conversation between El Biciclero and DoubleB here illuminated, the chief source of danger to everyone on our streets and roads, whether on a bike, on foot, or in another car emanates from cars and their (greater) speed. Take away the cars and most of the dangers in traffic disappear. The same does not hold true for the conditions that precede the search for and analysis of black boxes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      “The comparison to a black box in the article is interesting but I don’t think entirely accurate. …” 9watts

      Aircraft black boxes and mobile video cameras are very different things, but something basic they have in common, is event documentation.

      I don’t know much about black boxes other than from popular science documentaries and news articles, but I gather they do record a vast array of information about external conditions such as temperature and wind direction and speed that would be potential hazards in the environment airplanes travel in.

      For people that ride, mobile vid cams can gather info that could be valuable in learning how and why traffic incidents occur.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q`Tzal July 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      I don’t know about your helmet conjecture.
      My helmet has protected me at least once from what would have at least been nasty road rash, possibly a concussion or fracture.
      In that case there were NO OTHER road users around … which was why I was riding as dangerously as I was.
      Lets just put it this way: don’t take a hairpin turn ( 1976 SW Kingston Ave
      http://m.google.com/u/m/x55IRd) at higher than the posted speed limit unless you’ve swept the road surface of all sand and debris.
      :(

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Opus the Poet July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I could have used a camera Sunday on my way to evening services when the car went off the road and into a parking lot to pass me on the right. Drivers in TX be crazy. That stretch of road was less than 1/4 mile from the preceding stop light to the stop sign at the T intersection, and I caught up to the driver at the stop sign. He gained nothing from his dangerous and illegal passing movement.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beck July 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

    that would had been handy the other day when i had a truck driver get out of his cab, call me a sorry son of a bitch and i didn’t belong on his road and then he kicked my bike out of my hands. reallll handy.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Henry July 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I would love a camera, but mostly so I could try to issue some citations to unsafe drivers. Police can’t be everywhere, and other drivers aren’t looking out for illegal maneuvers particularly dangerous to cyclists. It is my opinion that most people aren’t going to go read up on how to be safe. They are too busy. A ticket or citation in the mail could be effective in changing their behavior.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 2wo Wheel July 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I like it. Front and back cams. Helps keep everybody a little more on their toes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q`Tzal July 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I find it funny that this many years after 1948 when he wrote the book that it isn’t the government – Big Brother is us.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are July 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    wsbob
    for the most part…people that drive have to be and are constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for ahead of, to the sides of and behind the vehicle, in order to operate it safely.

    you go ahead and believe what you want to believe. for a cyclist or a pedestrian to get around safely, we have to assume the opposite, and we are rarely disappointed.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • 9watts July 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      good one, are.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob July 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      “…we have to assume the opposite, and we are rarely disappointed.” are

      Perhaps on your part, a self-fulfilling prophesy. But certainly do be ever watchful for the small percentage of people behind the wheel that don’t see people on bikes, whether due to their not sufficiently scanning, or because people on bikes haven’t made sufficient efforts to be visible to road users.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are July 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        yes, i can see how my thinking i bet that guy up there is gonna make an unsignaled left causes it to happen

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob July 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

          It’s possible you may choosing to ride in traffic situations where the likelihood of road users taking liberties with rules of the road is higher than average. Couple that with the possibility that you’re neglecting to account for or adjust for the known fact that in some situations, such as downtown, big thoroughfares in general and at intersections, cut-throughs…traffic will be much more intense than others.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • are July 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm

            i was challenging your assertion that motorists are generally vigilant. suddenly, we seem to be talking about something else.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • wsbob July 29, 2012 at 12:04 am

              We’re talking about self-fulfilling prophesy on your part, which I’m saying, may be occurring in part from your choice to ride in traffic situations where the likelihood of road users taking liberties with rules of the road is higher than average. Couple that with the possibility that you’re neglecting to account for or adjust for the known fact that in some situations, such as downtown, big thoroughfares in general and at intersections, cut-throughs…traffic will be much more intense than others.

              Riding in traffic situations where road user decisions are less of a split second affair is likely to be more compatible with the riding abilities of certain types of people.

              You and 9watts seem to want to dismiss the fact that:

              “…for the most part…people that drive have to be and are constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for ahead of, to the sides of and behind the vehicle, in order to operate it safely. …”.

              …in order to make up for what may be shortcomings in your own ability to ride in and mentally handle intense traffic situations. It sounds as though you two instead, would prefer to explain this situation as ‘motorists not being generally vigilant’… with regard to bikes, or whatever.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • are July 29, 2012 at 9:47 am

                project much? i have no difficulty riding in “intense” traffic situations, but thanks for asking.

                my point was that your statement that “most” motorists are vigilant is very demonstrably false, and it does not require an unskilled cyclist to observe this. this is not a matter of my wanting to dismiss a “fact,” it is a matter of my pointing out a fundamentally mistaken premise from which apparently a lot of your mistaken conclusions follow.

                the simple _fact_, readily documented by even a few minutes’ observation, is that most motorists are operating at a rather low level of attention to their environment, which in many places has been built specifically to allow for this by minimizing the likelihood that anything unexpected will occur. but we have not (and cannot, and should not) build the surface streets in this way, because hey, other people gots to use them, and when they get onto the surface streets motorists should turn up the vigilance. but they do not. even if you find a sleepy corner somewhere (not “intense”), with only a few cars coming through in the space of an hour, it is easy to observe inattention in nearly every driver.

                again, i have no difficulty managing this, because i myself personally (and here i am not trying to generalize to other bicyclists) am vigilant. operating at a high level of vigilance is actually part of the joy of riding a bike. i make a game out of predicting the bonehead moves of other road users (mostly motorists, as a statistical matter), and being prepared to take appropriate action. i am even prepared for the guy who is in fact signaling a left turn to instead turn right.

                what i am saying, bob, is that i am rarely disappointed.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • wsbob July 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

                  “… i have no difficulty riding in “intense” traffic situations, …” are

                  It sounds as though you’re having a great deal of difficulty riding in intense traffic situations…and no, I wasn’t asking.

                  “…the simple _fact_, readily documented by even a few minutes’ observation, is that most motorists are operating at a rather low level of attention to their environment…” are

                  First of all, what you’re claiming isn’t a fact. It’s an opinion…your opinion, and a casual one. You sound confident that your opinion based on the conclusion you’ve drawn is accurate and true. If you really think so: prove it. You said it’s “…readily documented…”, so this should be easy for you to do. Document the proof you seem to consider is so readily available. A few minutes isn’t much time to base credible findings on, so if you’re hoping to gather any observations that might support your claim, you might try a longer period of time, and over different hours of the day, locations, traffic conditions, etc. Good luck!

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are July 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    wsbob
    what you’re claiming isn’t a fact.

    whereas what you are claiming is. well okay, then.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are July 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

    also, while i do not accept that the burden should be on me to establish the obvious, and while you could not begin to prove your absurd premise, let me just suggest the following as a starting point:

    210 million licensed drivers in 2009 per FHWA
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter4.cfm

    each driving an average 13.5k miles per year
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm

    5.4 million reported crashes
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811630.pdf

    how many unreported? shall we say ten times as many? in other words, fifty million? about one per year for every four licensed drivers? and how many “near misses”?

    vigilance, brother.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • wsbob July 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      You don’t mention what point of yours the information in the sources you post links to, is even supposed to support. Responding on a guess as to what that might be:

      There are hundreds of millions of miles made by hundreds of millions of people behind the wheel, the vast majority of miles made without event. Compare that to the percentage of bike road users; maybe 2 percent of all road users in the U.S., and the number of miles that mode of transportation represents.

      Given the nature of the mode of travel that motor vehicles represent, and the accompanying, long standing philosophy underlying people’s use of them on the road, there are going to be collisions, injuries and deaths resulting from that use. Change in some form will probably come eventually, but probably not in the near future. Advocacy groups can continue to try to speed up safer use of the road by people operating motor vehicles, but accomplishments along that line are likely to continue to be slow in coming…years from now, at best.

      If you’re really interested in having the roads be safer for people that bike, encourage those of them that aren’t to compensate for their relatively more difficult form to see, by equipping themselves and their bikes with lights and other gear that will accomplish that. This is something that can be done, with positive results from it…now. No waiting months and years.

      Typically, you also didn’t state what you consider my ‘premise’ to have been…little wonder, since I didn’t present one…so that rather leaves everyone that’s reading, wondering what you’re even talking about…but you waste no time nevertheless, recklessly tossing words like ‘absurd’ around.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • El Biciclero July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

        Guys. Gee whiz.

        Bob: you did state a premise. Summarized, it was:

        “most drivers are vigilant”.

        ‘are’ disagrees based on his experience with bad driver behavior, which it sounds like he sees with some frequency and can predict fairly accurately (“rarely disappointed” = “prediction came true”). It also sounds like ‘are’ assumes much of the bad driver behavior he sees stems from a lack of vigilance. ‘are’ also links to some stats about crash rates, which might appear a little high if we assume most drivers are truly vigilant. Therefore, ‘are’ concludes that the premise “most drivers are vigilant” is false.

        You also sound like you are claiming in some oblique fashion than drivers, try as they might, can’t attain the requisite level of vigilance because cyclists are so small that they “cannot” be seen.

        What it sounds like to me is that you are claiming most drivers are vigilant (based on…?), ‘are’ is claiming they are not (citing his own experience and statistics of crash rates), and you are then claiming that if drivers don’t appear to be vigilant, it is because bikes are “too hard” to see.

        So then I conclude from your discussion–
        wsbob: cyclists need to make more of an effort to be visible
        are: drivers need to make more of an effort to be vigilant

        My guess is that most drivers are vigilant sometimes, but not nearly enough of the time. I would also bet that drivers are more vigilant concerning some things, such as trucks, than they are about others, such as bikes. So can we claim that if drivers are only on the lookout for certain kinds of things and only at certain times, they are “vigilant”?

        My other guess is that some of the bad driver behavior ‘are’ sees and predicts (I won’t make any claims to have seen as much of it, but I know what he’s talking about, and I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting a lot of it, too) is a result of disregard or taking a “calculated” risk on the part of some drivers. The close-pass-race-to-the-stop that was mentioned earlier–not a result of lack of vigilance. “I thought I could beat him” comes in an unspoken close second (I imagine) to “I didn’t see him!” when cyclists get hit by cars. Vigilance/visibility is not the only problem out there.

        Regarding riding “style” and “self-fulfilling prophesies”: sure, we can all stay safe if we only ride in parks, or never ride on main arterials, always duck out of the way and sneak around in alleys and “greenways”, hoping they go where we need, or else “just driving” when needing to go somewhere that doesn’t have a “safe” route. We could cater to uneducated drivers who don’t expect cyclists to do some of the legal things they do because, “I would never do that! That guy is crazy!” We could all cover our bikes in reflective tape and never go out without our $2000-worth of lights and helmet cameras (even though K’Tesh’s bike is awesome…;-) )—OR, we can be seen operating in a legal fashion that gets us to our destinations in a direct and efficient manner, compensating for driver surprise and/or incompetence and/or lack of vigilance and/or aggression by being aware of our own surroundings and babysitting those poor drivers who “cannot” see us. As well, a large part of visibility IS riding style and lane position, as much as lights and safety vests. Riding style and comfort level in different situations is an individual choice that one of us can’t really begrudge the other for choosing.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • wsbob July 31, 2012 at 11:26 pm

          ” Guys. Gee whiz.

          Bob: you did state a premise. Summarized, it was:

          “most drivers are vigilant”. …” El Biciclero

          I stated no such premise. That’s not even an accurate summary of various things I’ve written relative to I said. I used the word ‘vigilant’ in a previous comment to this story just once, here:

          http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/24/ny-times-gives-helmet-cams-their-due-75086#comment-3101067

          …in this excerpt:

          “…It sounds as though you two instead, would prefer to explain this situation as ‘motorists not being generally vigilant’… with regard to bikes, or whatever.” wsbob

          I did use the word ‘scanning’ in a response to one of El Biciclero’s comments, here:

          http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/24/ny-times-gives-helmet-cams-their-due-75086#comment-3091937

          “…Generally…for the most part…people that drive have to be and are constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for ahead of, to the sides of and behind the vehicle, in order to operate it safely. …”

          You could have just read what I wrote in the first place, copied and pasted an excerpt with a clearly written response of your own.

          More applicable to the other stories of late about car bike-collisions on Hwy 101, than this one, but the fact is ‘vigilant’ used as it has in some people’s comments to this thread sounds a bit too much like ‘vigilantism’.

          I can see that you’re trying to say something in the rest of your rambling comment, but, sorry…it’s way too hard to sort out what that might be.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • are July 31, 2012 at 11:40 pm

            coulda just copied and pasted an excerpt. didn’t use the word “vigilant.”

            true, you used fifty-plus words to describe a level of attention i then shorthanded as “vigilance.” you did say “generally” and “most.”

            we haven’t beaten this entirely to death yet, but i don’t think the three of us are gonna push the count to two hundred comments, so why don’t we go trash another thread?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • wsbob August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am

              “…so why don’t we go trash another thread?” are

              If that’s you attitude, why bother posting any further? If you’re not willing to read, think about and understand what people say, and in response, write something intelligent and constructive, then you really should probably find something else to do.

              “…i then shorthanded as “vigilance.” …” are

              Which I explained to you, was the wrong word, and exactly why.

              And by the way…if you care to be regarded as a literate, mature person, you might consider starting the practice of capitalizing the first letter of your sentences. Not doing so might be o.k. for passing notes to seatmates in a junior high classroom, but the cuteness gets old fast when people are trying to read something the person writing is attempting to present as serious.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • are August 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

                Our friend Robert writes:

                “If you’re not willing to read, think about and understand what people say, and in response, write something intelligent and constructive, then you really should probably find something else to do.”

                Good advice, really, and something we should all take to heart in posting to these threads.

                But how did we arrive at this juncture?

                Back on July 25, Robert was quarreling with El Biciclero — and here, of course, we are starting in the middle, because this quarrel grew out of another that Robert had engaged in with spare_wheel, which grew out of a quarrel he had engaged in with Ron, but I digress — he was quarreling with El Biciclero, when at 6:44 p.m., Robert posted the following:

                “Generally…for the most part…people that drive have to be and are constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for ahead of, to the sides of and behind the vehicle, in order to operate it safely.”

                This was nested and hidden, so I pulled the quote to flag my disagreement. In my first post on the subject, I did not use the word “vigilance” as a shorthand for “constantly scanning,” etc. I simply said “for a cyclist or a pedestrian to get around safely, we have to assume the opposite, and we are rarely disappointed.”

                Robert of course had to respond, and he employed one of his favored tactics, diversion. Maybe “a self-fulfilling prophesy,” he said, employing the verb rather than the noun, as well as a stray comma, but hey, at least capitalizing the first letter of each sentence fragment.

                I had a bit of a laugh with that, imagining how my anticipating motorist errors might cause them to happen, and of course Robert had to respond again, with yet another diversion, suggesting (based on what information?) not only that I often place myself in more difficult traffic situations, but that I do not know how to handle myself there.

                Let us pause for a moment to think about how far we have strayed from the question whether “generally” and “for the most part” motorists “have to be and are constantly scanning the road,” etc., etc. — though Robert does mention that in these “intense” traffic situations that somehow he imagines I am not prepared to handle “the likelihood of road users taking liberties with rules of the road is higher than average,” whatever exactly that means.

                And it was here that I introduced the word “vigilant” as a shorthand for Robert’s fifty-plus word sketch of the motorist who is “constantly scanning.”

                http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/24/ny-times-gives-helmet-cams-their-due-75086#comment-3101751

                Robert did not immediately take issue with that shorthanding. Instead, he said if I thought “most motorists are operating at a rather low level of attention to their environment,” which is what I did say, the burden was somehow on me to establish this fact statistically. Note that the burden was not on him to establish that “most motorists are constantly scanning.”

                I tossed some statistics up there, sort of showing that on average almost every motorist is involved in at least a fender bender every so often, which was intended to suggest that someone was not “constantly scanning.” Though he said it was unclear what point I was trying to make, Robert actually acknowledged, in a convoluted way, the point.

                http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/24/ny-times-gives-helmet-cams-their-due-75086#comment-3105346

                “Given the nature of the mode of travel that motor vehicles represent, and the accompanying, long standing philosophy underlying people’s use of them on the road, there are going to be collisions, injuries and deaths resulting from that use.”

                I know it is dangerous to paraphrase Robert, because sometimes he himself does not seem to see the logical implications of his own statements, but what I am hearing here is this: if we are going to allow just about anyone to use a motorized vehicle to do short errands around town or to quickly cover fifty or a hundred miles for god knows what purpose, people are going to get hurt and killed, law of large numbers, period.

                I would say I emphatically agree, but I am sure Robert will be on here in a few moments saying this is not what he meant. Anyway, it is my paraphrase, so I can emphatically agree with it.

                One way to deal with the law of large numbers is to reduce the numbers. Fewer people driving fewer miles less often. Another is to focus on the particular places where the numbers emerge. For example, inattention, or somewhat less than “constant” scanning, or lack of “vigilance,” however you want to express it.

                But these are both fairly deeply engrained behavioral norms. How might we get people to drive a lot less, and to pay much closer attention when they do? A subject for another thread, perhaps. Evidently not, according to Robert (on another thread), by pushing people into traffic school and community service every time they knock down a vulnerable user.

                Robert suggests that motorists, “for the most part,” are already paying pretty close attention, and that bicyclists (and presumably pedestrians) need to shoulder some responsibility to make themselves more readily visible to these attentive motorists. While I certainly do not advocate hiding in the shadows, and while I do think an interest in self-preservation does require that you not rely on the attentiveness of strangers, the objection I and some others on this thread are trying to raise is that the vulnerable user is being asked to take on more and more of this responsibility, while the motorized user is allowed to sink more and more deeply into inattention.

                In his last post, Robert says he has “explained” somewhere “exactly why” my shorthanding “constantly scanning,” etc. as “vigilance” was “wrong.” One assumed he is referring to this:
                http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/24/ny-times-gives-helmet-cams-their-due-75086#comment-3108726
                which I will claim merely asserts, but does not explain.

                Recommended Thumb up 4

                • 9watts August 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

                  Give the man the beverage of his choice – and a refill!
                  Or, better yet, a guest column on bikeportland.

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

                • Tacoma August 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

                  Not to gush but brilliant summary. Certainly fun to read. Yes, someone give the man a beverage. My treat (though it will be a couple of months before I can get the funds there.) Cheers.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

          • El Biciclero August 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

            “‘most drivers are vigilant’”

            “I stated no such premise. That’s not even an accurate summary of various things I’ve written relative to I said.”

            Not even an accurate summary?

            “…constantly scanning the road for other road users of all types, as well as the myriad of other things that have to be watched for…”

            If you look up “vigilant” in the dictionary, this is pretty much what you will find as the definition. Unless by “scanning” you do not mean to imply alertness.

            When you say people who drive “generally” and “for the most part” behave this way, many people would interpret that to mean “most drivers behave this way”. Maybe it’s not what you meant, but it is pretty darn close to what you actually said–or at least implied by what you said.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

            • wsbob August 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

              “…Maybe it’s not what you meant, but it is pretty darn close to what you actually said–or at least implied by what you said.” El Biciclero

              It could be close in a different forum, but as it might have had in discussion here at bikeportland, I didn’t like the association ‘vigilant’ has to ‘vigilantism’ and ‘vigilante’. Also, I wanted to attempt to describe in some detail what I think people generally do to watch the road for other road users, hazards and what not, as they operate their motor vehicles.

              The word ‘scanning’ actually describes better than ‘vigilant’, what I think people do, or hope they do, as they travel the road, whatever their mode of travel…motor vehicle, bike, on foot. At least, it’s what I’m doing when I’m traveling the road. There’s probably probably published studies that have been done, documenting the visual responses of people behind the wheel.

              If it’s possible to record and count the number of places and times a person behind the wheel looks other than straight ahead down the road for information necessary to travel the road safely. I’d say, just for approaching and crossing a single signaled intersection, waiting for the light to change, there could easily be dozens of eye movements.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are July 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        probably the point about drivers generally being vigilant . i honestly can’t remember anymore, bob, as you keep moving the rug.

        i guess i was suggesting that if maybe one in four motorists gets into a reportable situation every year, and countless unreportables, vigilance isn’t exactly the word for how they are operating.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Andrew Holtz July 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Here’s a fresh one of a driver roaring past me in a no passing zone despite the fact that I was going at (actually, a bit above) the posted speed limit.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTOpnphRnDM

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are August 2, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    wsbob
    “I didn’t like the association ‘vigilant’ has to ‘vigilantism’ and ‘vigilante’. Also, I wanted to attempt to describe in some detail what I think people generally do to watch the road for other road users, hazards and what not, as they operate their motor vehicles.

    You did describe what you think people generally do. I disagreed. After some back and forth, I used the word “vigilance,” which I think people generally do not confuse with “vigilantism.” But sometimes a person is mistaken in thinking what other people generally do or do not do.

    After yet some more back and forth, you objected that you had not said motorists are generally vigilant, which in fact, without using that exact word, you did say. After yet some more back and forth, you came forward with this argument about possible confusion with “vigilantism.”

    And I am going to respect that, bob, and instead shorthand your fifty-plus word description as “scanning, etc.” It remains my contention, which has at least as much documentary support as yours, that “most” motorists do not “generally” engage in a whole lot of “scanning, etc.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.