Handlebar Camera vs. aggressive a-hole
I would think someone genius could do something relatively simple with a conical mirrored lens and an upward facing optical sensor that would record a constant 360 deg image. Like a low rent Google streetview. Someone do it.
the way I see it, I can pretty much survive any unanticipted jerk move by a motorist that is in my field of awareness.
Its the rear end collisions – the “your number is up” type that generally I would like to have a record of in the event of driver negligence.
Historically, this particular type of motorist/cyclist collision, while not the most common, has proven to be the most deadly.
I guess you have a lot of confidence in your friends or heirs being interested in reconstructing the last few seconds before the accident, along with trust in the hardiness of your bikecam’s SD card — also, PA doesn’t have front-facing license plates in any case.
Maybe this sounds mean — I don’t mean it to. I’m glad someone’s trying to make the roads safer, but what a thing to contemplate.
No worries Jon, when considering the worst case scenario, it would seem to me that those moments before impact would be better captured on video by facing rearward.
True, no plate, but the alternatve is hoping the camera would capture a plate after being run over while the camera is sliding along the ground.
I don’t have many heirs – but I do accept the inherent risk associated with ridng n traffic and the implications that go along with it.
I think we all are contemplating our mortality to a certain extent whenever we are navigating the streets.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 8:06pm #
Thank you for making cycling safer for us all.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 8:39pm #
I can’t help but have two reactions to this thread. I’m glad first that you’re safe and second that you have that recording, but sheesh… do I have to buy a (insert expletive) camcorder now!?
Maybe if it were a cheaper option or there weren’t the forward facing vs. rear facing issue to compound it I’d just forget about it and go, but it also makes me a little sick to think about because of the position it puts me when voicing my support for more people biking.
Can I do that with a straight face while contemplating the purchase of a camcorder? I mean LOTS of lights is one thing, but this is assuming the unsafe as inevitable.
I’m going to forget about this for a while, ride safe, aware, and with courtesy to car drivers (I don’t think Val was off-topic there, just, from my experience I get more close passing when I invite being passed in lane, so now I mostly don’t invite it).
What I will NOT do, is spend too long contemplating my mortality.
Contemplation of mortality is the difference between a front-facing and a rear-facing camera.
Anonymous 12/20/2012 at 12:33am #
^Riding with that set-up would make my brain go kablooey. Like riding on a Mobius strip.
If the image were flipped, it might be akin to checking a rear view mirror…
It surprised me that as high-end as the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog is reputed to be, (1) the camera doesn’t offer any bulk-storage or offload capability, (2) there’s no specs on the video quality, and (3) the bike looks a lot like what I rode in 1973.
But it provides food for thought. If I were to envision a device for today, I’d want a GoPro camera, an SD memory card,
and I’d want some sort of threat-response system that BryBot could probably spec out – something that calculates likely rear collisions ala TCAS and activates a powerful blinky servo’d directly at the threat vehicle.
(and just to go hyperbolic) Upscale models for police bikes might include an armor-piercing Taser package that would target the front engine of the threat vehicle, short-circuiting the engine electronics and rendering the engine an inert brick.
@pseudacris If the image were flipped, it might be akin to checking a rear view mirror…
If the images were not reversed, it might be just similar enough to a rear-view mirror to do some damage.
I like having the camera to record non-critical things, like the little analysis I did the other day of the Smallman & 14th St pedestrian fatality. [link]
Most of the time, I just review the day’s collection and press delete.
Same here Stu. I have the occasional bad day, when the asshats are out in force, but for the most part 19 out of 20 days worth of video just gets deleted without even being watched.
I appreciate the thoughtful nature of this thread, by the way.
Anonymous 12/21/2012 at 1:57pm #
@mikhail “Nevertheless it cannot be a ground to take or not to take a whole lane..” -I didn’t even make this argument or take this position. You obviously didn’t understand what I was saying. And if Driver reaction is a moot point to you, then I presume you take the whole lane, all the time? I will go on record now as saying that if bikers routinely take the whole lane in Pittsburgh, all the time, you will see fatalities go up, as well as negative interactions with motorists. I drive a pickup, own three different motorcycles and five or six bicycles, and I can tell you that being in the middle of the lane doesn’t miraculously elevate you to a much safer position (in MOST situations) in terms of visibility or Driver awareness. Any of you that are avid motorcyclists can probably speak to this very basic and elemental truth. And THAT is why I said I only take the entire lane in special circumstances when the situation calls for it. But it’s your bike, your ride, you get to make the call when that is…
Anonymous 12/21/2012 at 2:56pm #
@val I understood. Moreover PMTCC takes a whole lane when it necessary and one of the first rule is to respect drivers. We move to shoulder when it’s wide enough, clean, paved. But there are streets/roads (and Forbes and Fifth are two as an example) where we always take the whole lane. 19 going through West Liberty, Dormont, and Mt. Lebanon is road where you have to take a whole lane. Believe me — I use this road everyday for commuting during rush hours.
You are trying to convey to me something I did not say — I never told take always whole lane.
And my point was that you cannot say something that is true (e.g. there is always a driver that is pissed off at bicyclists) and use it as logical base for a conjecture. Sorry.
And statistics shows opposite — fatalities reduced in case of taking a whole lane.
Anonymous 12/21/2012 at 4:53pm #
In considering your comments I wondered what organizations would’ve actually done a coherent study on the topic. In searching, I came across this excellent graphic, for those of you who haven’t seen it. This looks like a great tool for illustrating to motorists why cyclists ride as they do.http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/
Anonymous 12/21/2012 at 5:15pm #
Here’s a great discussion on the perspective I tend to take, more often than not. Whichever way works for you, this too, is a great presentation.http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/taking-lane-when-simplistic-advice-can-make-things-worse
Anonymous 12/21/2012 at 6:35pm #
@val If you just to try search for “cyclingsavvy.org” on this board then you would immediately find that this link is pretty well known here. http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/oblivious-motorists-fail-to-yield-right-of-way-to-ambulance/page/2#post-99433 or http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/bicycle-commuting-101-event-for-college-students/page/2#post-112857.
The second link also well known. And it’s one of the many schools of thoughts. Someone could agree someone could disagree. You (and me) as a driver should remember that speed limit is not right to ride always at this speed.
BTW you again mix “always” and “when appropirate or necessary”.
Anonymous 12/22/2012 at 12:26am #
I’m not sure what you mean by mixing but I will take your word for it. I had never even heard of that site, so wouldn’t have thought to search this board for it. But it seems like they must be pretty decent. I most definitely agree with you about the posted speed limit and what’s realistic and/or safe. I almost always drive at below the speed limit just because it makes good sense in a lot of ways. It certainly does seem like most drivers can be careless at times, or worse. I’m always amazed at the way motorists drive at the same speeds as always, even in a downpour. I am always extremely grateful when I meet the occasional polite driver.
Anonymous 12/22/2012 at 1:47pm #
@val By mixing I meant that no one give an advice to take whole lane ALWAYS. It depends on situation. And in case when there is no way to safely pass then take a lane. 19 through West Liberty, Dormont, Mt. Lebanon is 4 lane road (two in each direction) and one could be used as a parking lane during certain periods of day. And no shoulder at all. Shoulder appears in Upper St. Clair just after it goes over McLaughlin Rd (past USC High School). By that time speed limit is 45, people are flying up to 60 and you can find USC police “undercover” car waiting for those drivers. I know all our police cars and many officers (personally).
Any good advice could be not so good or even bad under some conditions. In this sense, I believe, no one here is going to say do it always so I (and other people) would agree with you that sometimes one should not take a whole line. The same 19 in USC — I would not advise to take a whole lane. I would not advise even to use it for biking.
Anonymous 12/22/2012 at 3:54pm #
Speaking of narrow, dangerous roads, I want to ride down to Ambridge and cross the river there, then return up 51. But from what I recall, there are sections that have no shoulder, and are somewhat twisty with reduced line of sight. Is anyone intimately familiar with that section of road, enough to give a thumbs up or thumbs down? Any information is good, thanks.
The Ambridge bridge is open, but the sidewalk is hard closed. The roadway is restricted-width by jersey barriers with construction still ongoing.
So, to use the Ambridge Bridge you’re in the lane. A car could only pass you by crossing the centerline. It’s not bad, just info. I’ve been across it a few times recently and everybody cooperated nicely.
Route 51, both directions, North of the Ambridge Bridge has no consistent shoulder and its 55mph, yet it’s also a State Bike Route and has ShareTheRoad signs.
51-South, from about a half-mile south of the Ambridge Bridge in Crescent Township is IMO what most would call bike-friendly; intermittent shoulder and 35mph, and they’re pretty serious about enforcing the speed limit so the cars tend to really do 35.
Anonymous 12/22/2012 at 5:41pm #
That is far more positive than what I expected to hear about the route. I’ve driven it once and vaguely remembered liking the higher-up section, looking down on the river and industrial areas. Thanks a lot for the info, I look forward to riding it, and making it part of a longer, flatter ride that takes me through town, upriver and back to Ben Avon.
I’m not sure which direction you’re approaching Ambridge Bridge from, but there’s a route from Sewickley Starbucks via Beaver Street that parallels Route65 and delivers you into the south end of the Ambridge business district on Merchant Street, then turn left on 11th to get on the Ambridge Bridge. You’ll pass by a great local bike shop, Ambridge Bike Shop.
Anonymous 12/23/2012 at 1:09am #
I’ll be doing a counter-clockwise loop of sorts, beginning in Ben Avon, through Sewickley toward Ambridge, back up the 51 and through the Bottoms, to town, etc… I’ve heard of that bike shop before and meant to visit it. Do you know if there’s a coffee shop nearby? I’m looking forward to this, I may even give it a whirl, tomorrow…
Anonymous 12/23/2012 at 2:25am #
@val Correct me if I am wrong but you are trying to communicate a very simple and base idea — don’t do something to piss off someone else just to piss him/her off. Avoid fight when it’s possible to avoid without sacrificing too much.
Anonymous 12/23/2012 at 3:59am #
Mikhail, are you asking if that’s what I was trying to convey? I guess you could put it that way, I would sum it up as, taking the lane isn’t always the best thing to do. I wasn’t presuming to tell anyone how they should ride, but responding to something or things others had written. I was merely positing a different perspective for consideration. Nothing more, nothing less.
Anonymous 01/04/2013 at 7:45pm #
Well I know I said earlier that I don’t want to contemplate buying a camera. I still don’t. But in the light of my recent experience having my mirror clipped going up Greenfield Avenue and a feeling of having comparatively let others down by not having the solid info in place to catch the bastard, I’m definitely on the market now.
Looking for something cheap, all weather obviously, and convenient. Ideal would be something I can hit one button, start recording and continue overwriting oldest stuff you don’t have space for so you always have last <capacity> minutes of video, hit another button, stop, hit another, erase all video, plug into the computer through standard (usb, sd card) interface to the video, and not have to keep charging all the time (once a week would be ideal). Don’t care a lick about anything else. What fits the bill?
Anonymous 01/04/2013 at 9:49pm #
Actually, anyone ever tried using their smartphone for this? Would require an interestingly jury-rigged mount, but ~maybe~ could work, no!?
I use a ContourROAM that was ~$175 or $200 (I don’t remember). No option to automatically overwrite old files. It does have one-motion recording via a sliding switch on top which starts/stops recording. You can download software to alter the capture settings (480,720,1080 resolution). My commute is only about 30-40 minutes per day and I only have to recharge once a week while recording at 720 quality. Higher quality = less battery. There’s a status button which will indicate the level of storage and battery available through a red/yellow/green light system.
I see all kinds of problems with using a smartphone beyond mounting, such as field of view, resolution, battery power, etc. But a big advantage would be programmability and connectivity. Something like a video camera running Android would be a very cool platform for this, I think.
I am reasonably happy with the camera I have, which I have mounted on my helmet rather than the handlebars. It’s a Swann Freestyle HD that I picked upon woot.com last April for about $150. Takes 1080p video for about 2 hours. In my experience, the battery craps out before the memory does, but as an entry level camera, it does OK.
Anonymous 01/06/2013 at 1:49am #
I just jury-rigged my phone to my helmet with a wire hanger, and some knotted wire and packing tape to hold it onto the helmet (still don’t have zip ties, those would be a cleaner solution).
It looks hilariously trashy, but it seems surprisingly robust. Admittedly, haven’t tested with a crash yet, but jumped around like an idiot with the helmet on, and then took the helmet off for some serious shaking including upside down. Didn’t even slip.
And the video quality is pretty good IMHO. Field of view may be an issue but looks reasonable. Battery life is good enough for my commute, probably about 2 hours total? Anyways, I need to keep my cell phone charged anyway, so no new hassles added really. I plan to start recording my rides on Monday assuming no precip.
If that works well I will post details, maybe a sample video, and seriously explore the programmability angle. There’s a lot you could do with this. I’m excited.
Anonymous 01/07/2013 at 5:42pm #
Good proof of concept cell phone mounted to helmet with wire hanger on the ride in today. Unfortunately, the aim was high… lot of trees, streetlights and skyscrapers once downtown.
Will be correcting that before the ride home. But I now count myself among the enforcers, and that’s just awesome.
I also got a helmet cam recently. It goes on its maiden voyage (in Pittsburgh) tomorrow. I used it briefly in Florida over xmas just to try it out.
Maybe I’ll finally get my pickup-driving close passing nemesis on record
I know I have mentioned this to some of you when I see you in person and we start talking about helmet cams but I have taken to wearing mine whenever I ride. most of the time it is turned on (when I remember and when I remember to put fresh batteries in) but even if the batteries are dead I wear make a habit of “adjusting” it when I stop at intersections. I find that this draws attention to it. I believe that drivers are much more courteous when they know they are being recorded.
Anonymous 01/10/2013 at 1:17am #
I am actually considering getting a rear facing camera for deterrent value alone since my improvised helmet cam is more in front than on top and would not necessarily be recognized as such. Only good for proving the case after the fact.
The good thing if that’s your goal, it can be a total bluff, broken is fine, and then you can pick it up for nothing… if you know someone with it. I might even just start with an old water damaged cell phone since I have it on hand. Just wish the lens were more conspicuous.
Aha! Helmet cam was rolling today when the pickup guy passed me too close – but this time on my way to work. I have a gazillion meetings today, so I won’t be able to check footage until tonight. Hopefully it was light enough to catch him.
Looking forward to calling Crafton PD if I have reasonable video. For the record, this is the 4th time I’ve been passed too closely by the same truck.
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