Smile, bicyclist: You’re on my dashboard camera!

Background Reading

Summary

Insurance fraud is at an all-time high in many places around the world. The institution of “Vulnerable User Laws” can have an unintended consequence. It makes one segment of society a target for the have-nots who view the haves as vultures. Suddenly everyone is aware of the fact that in countries where these laws are present you can create your own revenue stream by doing stupid and dangerous things.

But even in countries where these laws are not currently present, there are many who try and take advantage of a situation like “Door Zone Collisions” to enrich themselves. Take for instance this reply to a thread on the Urban Cyclists “Whine and Jeez” Club Forum:

Reply by Michelle on November 6, 2013 at 11:20am
This sounds terrible but its the student loan debt talking: Ill get doored, for $700,000.

The Dash Cam To The Rescue

The video clip below is one used to help sell the idea of dashboard cameras to drivers here in the United States.

Action Cameras for Bicyclists

Garmin VIRB with head strap mount

Garmin VIRB with head strap mount

Cyclists have been at least considered using the Door Zone Collision to help pay off student loans. If you look at some of the claims by Chicago data wonks one of the more prevalent forms of bicycle versus automobile collisions is with doors. In fact an article screams:

You should immediately ask why such a situation even exists. First of all Door Zone Collisions are a matter of avoiding the Door Zone. Some states and advocacy groups take the time to disseminate information that dispels the notion that such collisions are inevitable. The current myth is that passengers of cars are the cause of these incidents. If they would only LOOK you as a cyclist would never be injured.

It is to the advantage of the legal system operatives to keep you ill-informed. But Mesa Arizona publishes a document which shows just how wrong that approach really is:

I would like to think that bicycle advocacy agencies are merely ignorant of the truth about resolving these types of collisions. But frankly that might not be the case. Cyclists love to flock to a cause and Doorings as they are popularly termed provide yet one more situation in which people riding bicycles can be cast as victims.

Municipalities have long placed sharrow markings alongside parked vehicles. Naive riders followed those markings as they hugged the right side of the street and were suddenly faced with an opening door that they could not avoid. Cities like Chicago have begun to install what are now termed as Buffered Bike Lanes. They make a lot more financial sense, even than Protected Bike Lanes.

It does not take special equipment to clear snow and ice from such lanes and they provide enough of a buffer to the left of the rider that he can safely ride far enough from car doors to physically avoid them altogether. If you cannot be struck by an open door you avoid collisions altogether. In fact the remaining issue would be a car that suddenly dips into the bike lane and has a passenger debark. But even then if you are careful and traveling at a safe speed (i.e. anticipating such an occurrence) you can avoid serious injury.

Specifics About The GoPro

Buying a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera to camera to mount under your saddle (facing rearward) will perhaps only suffice to allow you (or someone else) the final moments of your life before you are run over from the rear by a motorist. Placing that same camera on your handlebars allows you to  see your final moments if struck from the front.

My point here is that such a camera is no antidote to mean and vicious drivers who either fly into a rage or drive recklessly. The burden is still on the cyclist to be aware of their surroundings and to ride as if your life depended on it, because it does. It is difficult enough to avoid problems when sober so do not make it that much more likely that you will be injured by either riding inebriated or while using drugs. Even drugs that are designed to clear allergy symptoms can be dangerous.

It is unconscionable for any organization devoted to the safety of cyclists to organize outings in which drinking is in any way integrated into them. Why this sort of thing is being done mystifies me. If you are going to be drinking then the same rules apply to you as a cyclist that apply to drivers, get a cab. And for heavens sake, why have a pub crawl by bicycles? That one is purely idiotic!

Getting back to the GoPro. You will need to use this device in loop mode. It would be best to set it to record perhaps the last 5 to 10 minutes of your trip. But battery life on devices like these are limited. You get perhaps a maximum of 2 hours if you buy one of the auxiliary battery packs. That might sound like a lot but it really is not if you are out and about on a Saturday shopping. So be forewarned, such cameras make more sense when mounted inside automobiles than on your bike. But hey, it’s your money.

Who Benefits From All This Overkill?

The only two groups that make money with injury and accidents are the guys selling the cameras that we buy to record the accidents and the folks who support injured folks following an accident. They get to stitch you back up for insurance money payments and represent you in claims again for insurance money payments. You on there hand are going to spent months recuperating from an injury that might leave you with a permanent defect. But hey, it’s your body!

Besides you too could decide that $700K is fair compensation for the pain and suffering, but frankly you will never see the bulk of that money. It will go to the others in the food chain, long before you ever see a penny.