A recent article in the New York Times highlighted innovative ways that cyclists are putting technology to use to improve safety. The piece focuses on small cameras that can be mounted on a rider’s helmet. The newspaper describes these as “the cycling equivalent of the black box on an airplane… 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.”
Though originally designed for recreational use (the cameras have long been popular with snowboarders and mountain bikers seeking to capture memories of their rides) they are proving useful in urban environments as a way for bike riders to help police pursue and prosecute reckless drivers and to enforce the law in the wake of cycling accidents involving cars. The newspaper notes that use of the cameras has increased markedly as the cost of the cameras has dropped. A good helmet camera can now be purchased for under $200.
“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,” the paper notes, citing local law enforcement. It profiles one New York City rider who was able to help police track down a hit-and-run using video from his helmet camera which captured an image of the driver’s license plate.
It is, of course, incumbent on all cyclists to follow the rules of the road at all times, but anyone who has ridden a bike on a public street would agree that dealing with cars can be scary, and that far too many drivers regard cyclists as an annoyance. Reports of drivers harassing cyclists pop up somewhere in the country nearly every month (though it is to Oregon’s credit that we are deservedly seen as one of the most biker-friendly places in the United States).
From an Oregon bicycle accident attorney’s perspective anything that helps make riding safer is to be welcomed. In an era of distracted driving it can be especially helpful for Portland cyclists to be able to document their interactions with cars (and when the ride is uneventful, the video can simply be fun to watch).
New York Times: Cameras are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents