Cyclodeo : Great Idea, Questionable Exemplars

Background Reading

Summary

DesignTaxi has a short piece on a service that sounds intriguing:

Dutch start-up Cyclodeo has made it possible to experience a bike ride through New York City, regardless of whether you are in the city itself, or not.

The company brings together the love of cycling and video making, thereby creating a digital resource that both travelers and cycling-fanatics alike, can share and benefit from.

They achieve this by uploading videos of bike rides and have them cleverly synchronized with GPS data for about 93 miles (150 kilometers).

Cyclodeo’s videos are also an excellent source of information for serious cyclists planning routes for their next cycling expedition.

Apart from New York, one can also ‘cycle along’ the streets of Copenhagen and parts of the southern Netherlands. All videos are mapped out on Google Maps, allowing you to virtually experience exactly how the surroundings of that area will look like.

Here is an example of a bike-view video, down 11th Avenue, from 50th Street, NYC:

Some Observations

Helmet-mounted video cameras are all the rage. I would imagine that if their companies have stock now is a good time to buy. Some of the interest is in using helmet cams as if they were black boxes recording the trip you take and documenting the menacing behaviors of pedestrians, motorists and other bicyclists alike. Of course on the brighter side it can be a great way to simply document a ride to be replayed deep in the throes of winter that reminds you of warmer and happier times.

So as you watch the sample video above you will note that while interesting they appear to be made by amateurs interested in raw documentary qualities, which is rather nice. The camera sways from side-to-side at points where the rider is getting up to speed. Sometimes other cyclists venture into the frame and you get to see them pedal away. Where the camera user is situated is where you the viewer are as well.

What you get to see (besides just the scenery) is just how careful the cyclist is in navigating the city streets. You notice the following:

  • Sometimes the rider obeys traffic signals sometimes not
  • The rider may or may not take precautions to avoid riding in the “Door Zone”

This might be just the repository to help cyclist understand the nature of their behavior as vehicle operators. By looking for clues to the weaknesses in their operation perhaps there is the possibility of helping countless cyclists avoid:

  • Collisions with opening car doors
  • Not taking the lane when they should
  • Putting themselves in harms way when trying to navigate around buses pulled over to the curb to accommodate passengers

My guess is that most cyclist never really have had their “swing” analyzed in the manner of a hitter in the batter’s box. We ride around without benefit of a thoughtful and constructive critique of our behavior. All that we understand is that a car appears to have cut us off and we are angry and decide to “slap the car’s hood just enough to get the attention of the driver“. And suddenly the driver and we have an escalation of words that could turn ugly.

A second camera mounted behind the primary one but pointing rearward would give the driver a chance to view his “swing” as well. What might be even more interesting would be to see a dashboard mounted view of the driver’s circuit through traffic played alongside that of the cyclist. What would such an analysis tell us about their mutual behaviors that might lead to better outcomes in traffic?

Judging from my few encounters with cyclists who show very little regard for their personal safety and virtually no regard for how skilled or unskilled I might be as a driver there is much to be learned by a disinterested recording of the habits of cyclists and drivers alike as they ply their way through city traffic.

Enjoy Cyclodeo!