Careless or intimidating driving.
Many cyclists now use cameras on Britain’s busy roads due to careless, intolerant or deliberate intimidatory driving. There is a far greater hazard to a vulnerable cyclist than the possibility of injury to the driver of tons of fast-moving metal. Good quality video provides an invaluable evidential record in the case of accident, near miss or other incident, particularly in the absence of witnesses. Some UK Police areas now actively facilitate the submission of video evidence. A leading example is “Operation Snap”, which was initially piloted by North Wales Police and is now operational throughout Wales: https://gosafe.org/faq/operation-snap/ What sort of Cyclist Safety Camera?
Few suitable for cycling.
Although there are many types of camera on the market, only a few are ideal for use by cyclists as safety cameras. Ubiquitous are “sport” or “action” type cameras, typically the popular GoPro or similar. Best for short high-quality action sequences, most have major shortcomings if used as a cyclist safety camera. Many stop recording (often without adequate warning) in as little as an hour when the battery is depleted, or memory card reaches capacity. Some are bulky, particularly those needing a supplementary waterproof case. An ideal cyclist safety camera needs to be compact, lightweight, waterproof, have a good quality image, with effective sound recording and capable of running continuously “hassle free” for extended periods without the need for intervention to replace batteries or memory card. Attaching a Forward-Facing Camera.
Valuable as an evidential record.
Helmet mounting can usually provide a superior evidential record than attaching a camera to handlebars. High up, the camera records virtually everything that the rider sees, particularly hazards approaching from the side. Video evidence can confirm that you looked right or left and signalled your intentions. During the aftermath of an incident, particularly if the rider becomes separated from their bike, a headcam remains effective, recording both sound and vision. Bullet type cameras are ideal for head mounting, being small, lightweight and unobtrusive. Rectangular cameras tend to be bulky and awkward and look somewhat incongruous stuck on the top of your head! Attaching Rearward Facing Camera.
Best located on the bike frame, seat post, rack, or on top of a rigid mudguard, a rearward facing camera provides effective evidential footage. Particularly good at identifying close pass vehicles, intimidatory tailgaters and is excellent at capturing incidents involving other cyclists riding behind. Before you commit to buying a camera, use the feature check list on the following page. Take care to verify that your choice is effective and practical for your individual cycling lifestyle.
Two cameras, (facing forward and back) are an effective combination to capture evidential footage of all types of events leading up to and the aftermath of an incident.
To ensure your headcam captures what you see, particularly at junctions, get used to moving your head (not just eyes), towards potential hazards! Glance to the side to record your hand signals.
Don’t forget you are potentially recording your own misdemeanours; the Police may prosecute you!
Don’t forget to switch the headcam off when you visit a public convenience!
For reliability always use high quality memory cards from a trustworthy source.
Cards have a limited life span when used to continually record video, replace when unreliable.
For card longevity and to stop that day’s files being overwritten during a ride, use cards with the biggest capacity your device can accept. If your camera can only accept a maximum of 32 GB media, consider formatting a higher capacity card as FAT32. This format is only suitable when loop record files are smaller than 4 GB. You will need third party Windows software and external card reader to format a memory card as FAT32 such as: http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?guiformat.htm
Treat manufacturers claims for the runtime of the camera’s internal battery with scepticism – their tests will have been carried out in optimum conditions. Runtime will be less in cold environments.
Repeated charge and discharge cycles reduce a battery’s capacity to store power. After 200 cycles the battery may only retain 70% of its original capacity. If you exclusively rely on a fixed internal battery, you may have to replace the whole camera in due course of time! The following pages review four cameras currently on the market which largely satisfy the above checklist. The comparison table is based the manufacturer specification. If you aware of other suitable devices currently on the market please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org