When Evan Wilder was recently nailed by a car on his bicycle commute to work, he didn’t have the opportunity to jot down the license number of the vehicle that hit him before it sped off. Nor were there any witnesses on foot or in other vehicles.
But a video camera that Evan had attached to his helmet recorded the entire episode. After watching footage later that day, the bicyclist turned in the license plate number to the police, and the driver was eventually found guilty of a hit and run. “Without the video, we wouldn’t know who did it,” said Mr. Wilder, 33, who was bruised and scraped in the crash.
Bike riders have a long history of tension with motorists and pedestrians, who tend to criticize cyclists for their “aggressive” attitudes and “confrontational” behaviors: whizzing through stop signs and lights, or disregarding traffic rules more generally. But now small video cameras — the cyclist’s counterpart to the airline industry’s black box— have become a more objective arbiter between these various parties.
In fact, footage from car-on-bicycle incidents cameras is also being used by police officials to investigate o hit-and-runs, along with other accidents, throughout the U.S. Injury Attorneys that specialize in defending the rights of bicyclists expect that the popularity of using cameras for such purposes will grow exponentially in the coming years, particularly as the price of the devices incrementally drops.
Bicyclists also have reason to hope that cameras may discourage motorist harassment, a growing problem that has required cities like Los Angeles and Berkeley to create new laws in order to address.
“It’s a fact of life that on American roads that you get punked, cut off purposely, harassed, not once but on a regular basis,” said Bob Mionske, a former Olympic cyclist who is now a lawyer representing bicyclists in Portland, Ore. “If motorists start to hear about bikes having cameras, they’re going to think twice about running you off the road.”
One of the most widely publicized bicycle accident videos was posts on YouTube last April and immediately went viral (over 400,000 hits). Two riders cycling a hill in Berkeley were suddenly knocked down by a black car that sped off after the incident. Fortunately, neither bicyclist was critically injured, and the Berkeley police used footage to determine the car’s license plate and the identity of the owner.
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