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Helmet cams for justice and for advocacy

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Still from helmet cam footage taken
in SW Portland by Seth Alford.

According to a BBC article published yesterday people wearing helmet cams while bicycling is becoming more common in the UK. For many, the article says, the helmet cams are a way to capture bad drivers in the act. As helmet cam quality goes up and cost comes down, I wonder if this is a trend we’ll start seeing in other places. I’ve come across a few helmet cam videos recently that point to the trend possibly taking hold here in Portland as well.

The BBC article features a guy whose helmet cam footage was used in court to win a case against another vehicle operator:

“Ben Porter, a stagehand from London, bought a camera to show incredulous friends and family just how dangerous his daily commute could be…

Mr Porter, 37, took the footage to his local police station and the van driver was eventually prosecuted and found guilty of a public order offence and driving without due care and attention. He was fined £300, with costs of £150 and given five points on his licence.”

Local bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg, says he’s yet to use helmet cam footage in any of his cases, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t already using them in a similar way as Mr. Porter. From what I’ve seen, Portlanders are using them more for advocacy than for busting bad road users.

North Portlander Amos Hunter recently documented the intersection of N. Larrabee and Broadway to show how dangerous the bike lane is…

And Southwest Portland resident Seth Alford has uploaded many helmet cam videos to his YouTube account. Here’s one of a right hook he experienced on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway..

Alford has also documented long stretches of SW Barbur Blvd to document riding conditions on that street.

What do you think about the BBC article? Would you wear a helmet cam just to catch other road users in the act?

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Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger

It has been a important tool for transit operators crash reconstruction, so it [sadly] will be an important tool for cyclists…since often it is only the surviving driver’s viewpoint of the crash is recorded vs. the struck and often killed cyclist who’s viewpoint is silent.

Though I wish there was a helmet cam that could take a split screen front and back view (180/ 360) so that only one device had to be set up and maintained.

Opus the Poet

I see a market for this, and where there’s a market someone will try to fill that market.


I’ve been looking to buy a GoPro HD from REI for just such a purpose, but they can’t seem to keep them in the store. So, there must be a lot of these cameras out there. if the average driver thinks they could be on camera at any time, maybe they’ll pay a little better attention.

One can dream.


I think documenting daily rides/situations out of the cyclists view to give drivers an insight how small infractions on their side (swerving, not signaling, parking close to corner) can have a big impact on cyclists.

Mark Hashizume
Mark Hashizume

If I was a regular bike commuter then I would consider it if I had more than a couple of close calls. It’s a shame that I not only have to invest in a helmet, multiple front & back lights, reflective-active LED vest in order to be safe but another $100 or so in order to insure my safety. Of course there is biking defensively which is a given.


I would LOVE to have a helmet cam and plan to buy one as soon as I have the cash to spare…

I agree that a front/rear split view would be awesome…