Monday, June 2, 2014

Riding with a camera

If you have been aware - lately there have been more videos popping up where cyclists are documenting aggressive and life threatening behavior with a GoPro or similar sports camera.  I rode for the first time with one this morning.  I had it mounted on the drop of my handlebar, and messed up the orientation of the video, but corrected that in playback.  Tomorrow I will dial things in better.  I have mine set in 1080 30fps and saw reasonable video from it.  I have a JVC camera, it was on sale for about $100 from Fry's Electronics recently, and I am using a handlebar mount, right over my handlebar tape, on the bar end/drop.

I am still playing and figuring out what works and what does not.  The few moments I reviewed this morning needed quite a bit of work, and might argue to mount the camera on a helmet instead of a bike due to how bumpy the pics are.  If I import the video into Final Cut, I probably can manipulate and clean up the bumpiness a bit as the software can help that out.

The reality of this, using a camera, is why do we need to do this?  Especially, on a training ride?  I can see taking a camera on a special trail, or in a race to capture the action, the chaos and all of that kind of fun.  That makes sense.  Many are recommending using cameras out on all rides.  Why has our society made this happen?  We can't trust other road users to act responsibly, and that is a shame.

Earlier this year, when I was training in the afternoons, I had two incidents where I wish I had a camera on board to capture the license plate of a vehicle full of teenage boys that assaulted me.  One time I chased them down into a parking lot and attempted to stop them.  They drove in a massivly dangerous manner, in reverse across a full parking lot, nearly sliding into a pole, hitting other cars just to get away from me.  I turned them into the police two times, and I have no idea if they have been found, arrested or anything. If I had the plate, it would have helped out quite a bit. 

I wonder about this rise in assaults on cyclists.  I also wonder what would happen if bigger vehicles started doing the same to these drivers that assault cyclists.  Are we getting into some macho one upmanship of who has the biggest gun?  I used to ride, a few decades ago, with a friend that carried a holster and a .22 semi auto handgun right on his stem.  I used to always have a frozen water bottle with me, in the summer here it was welcomed, but I thought of it as a weapon, and have thrown it at two cars before, hitting one with a resounding thump. 

I still wonder why things have to come down to an arms race.  Would these same drivers appreciate aggressive vehicles brushing against their kids on sidewalks while walking, running, skating or even riding?  I would be just as mad as when they do the same to me. 

I have friends back east that have taken to mounting cameras in their cars to record bad drivers.  I imagine that video footage can be useful, and could be turned into the police and the like.  But I also wonder when the police start refusing, or not even using, or not pursuing these bad drivers.  I see that in the future where the police "claim" they cant do anything, even with the video proof.  Vigilantism will probably ensue.  There was an issue of that happening in the Bay Area, but it was taken too far, and the vigilante was charged. 

I hate having to video my bike rides.  I should ideally be able to ride my bike in my neighborhood and trust everyone to use the roads responsibly.  Mistakes and accidents do happen, that is understandable.  Outright rage and aggressive nature towards other drivers, road users and the like is not understandable.  Perhaps something will change in the near future where we are forced to act far more responsibly in regards to the vehicles we use, such as adding penalties for getting tickets for cell phone use, assault with a vehicle or similar occurrences where they will raise your insurance cost.  Hurt those with bad behavior in the pocketbook.  Some auto loans have the ability to end the contract due to breach because the car was used in an inappropriate manner.  Normally this is dealing drugs or things like that.  Expanding the contract language that if you assault someone, or use inappropriately could be added as a factor, especially if you are jeopardizing your insurance coverage and the safety of others.

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