Monday, February 28, 2011

Tech Savvy Militant Cyclists

In today's The Age, Melissa Davey reports on what for me represents part of a worrying trend; cyclists versus cars.

In her article, Cyclists put mettle to the pedal to capture collisions, she introduces cyclists' "new weapon in their battle to stay safe on the roads", the video camera.  She interviews Nathan Besh who has started a company that sells mounts to attach cameras to a bicycle.

She also writes about another guy who posts footage on YouTube to show how close he comes to getting killed.

These guys film their daily commute to work in readiness for being struck down.

For me this is simply contributing to a them versus us mentality that in the end will fail to serve anyone's best interests.  Cyclists and motorists should be looking at a way to share the roads rather than adding momentum to what is increasingly being referred to as a "war".

I haven't ridden much in Sydney (where these two gentlemen are from), but the few times I have I can say the infrastructure doesn't exist to engender happily shared roads.  Perhaps that is more the problem.

This is not to say that foolish and dangerous drivers don't exist.  Of course they do; I come across one almost daily.  But pointing the finger at motorists will not help our cause.  Indeed, I believe it will only serve to make us more vilified in the eyes of motorists.

I'd also like to add that footage makes cars look much closer than they actually are.  I believe the implication of the photo below (right centre) is that the bus is passing by perilously close.  I would contend it is in fact at least a metre away (although it is hard to say, but that's the point).  Also, it looks like there's an awful lot of lane free on the left that the cyclist could be accommodating.
And that pedestrian in the bottom right photo doesn't look all that close to me.

You're on bike-cam . . . Simon Hookham with the video camera mounted on his bicycle, and some of the footage he has captured on his commute, including near-misses with pedestrians and buses.
From The Age

But all this is petty.  My argument is that as cyclists we don't need sanctimonious tech savvies riding in our bunch making us appear to hate everyone else and ensuring everyone else hates us.

What do you think?


  1. I agree. Cyclists can't win a "them and us" war, and indeed, most cyclists are also motorists. I must say I'm a much more cyclist aware driver as a result of being on the receiving end of motorist's carelessness, aggression, inattention etc. It's also the case that the video can give a false impression of closeness -- as is evident from your video in Paris where you appear to cycle through impossibly small gaps.

  2. But maybe having evidence to show how dangerous is will encourage goverments at all levels to provide the infrastructure needed to allow for happily shared roads...

  3. Dear Anonymous, I understand your stance however I would contend that we are well beyond the point of needing evidence to prove that the infrastructure is inadequate.
    There are many cities around the world (Amsterdam, Portland, Copenhagen) where there are happily shared roads. The Australian government need only compare our roads to theirs to see what needs to be done.
    The government is well aware of what the problems are. They now need to take action but I don't think publishing videos of dangerous driving is going to encourage them in any way.

  4. yeah but say a drunk hits you or someone intentionally runs you down. why the hell wouldn't you want a pic of their paltes?...
    "no id rather let the guy who mamed me get away and do it to someone else?"

  5. Im ready for a camera!!! after being repeatedly hit/ driven into side traffic by some guy in a van

  6. In my experience those who know they get it back don't give it out.... thus I carry a ball peen hammer mounted on my frame... assault or even threaten me with a deadly weapon, don't get held at a light or stop where I can find you... your car, at very least, will suffer for your behavior... all other times, when well behaved, you are my brother or sister, when you aren't, you are my potential killer... and will be dealt with accordingly... I don't retaliate for human error just as I don't when someone legitimately bumps into me mistakenly in the subway... but those deliberately gunning me get far more than they expected in return... and when our culture evolves to the extent that the gunners know this will be a given, the gunning will slow to a trickle...

  7. The problem is a mounting tension as cycling grows in popularity. Motorists are feeling crowded on roads that are suddenly "bike routes" without bike lanes. Too many cyclists are used to childhood rules that disregard traffic codes as they venture out into streets, and they give motorists a bad impression. I've cycled some of the busiest streets in Houston, Brownsville and Lubbock on my way to classes, work, and home, and those motorists with tainted impressions are a hassle and even often dangerous. Add to them the impatient and rushed and you'll see cyclists ready to go to war over legitimate grievances. The police don't ticket aggressive drivers when they are buzzing a cyclist. Heck, I've been clipped by a passing car and the officer who watched it all just told me I shouldn't have been on the only road that would take me home from school. I dare not extend my hand to signal a left turn anymore for fear of someone selectively not seeing it, and as such I end up throwing myself across a lane from time to time because it's safer than signalling in advance. I've banged on cars that crowd me, carried an air horn and even contemplated carrying a gun after a passing car launched an assault with full soda cans on me and the driver of a pickup truck dropped in behind me and tailgated me two miles while blaring his horn...he had another lane he could have gone past in. I do genuinely try to stay out of the way of traffic. Even then, I get it from some recheck in a pickup truck who thinks share the road means I should not be on it. What is a cyclist to do?