The Truth is a commodity that is becoming rarer with each passing day. Especially in the case of an incident between road users, the “truth” depends on who you talk to. This is why many car drivers are buying dash cams these days so that they have a visual record of what happened should they get involved in an incident with another road user. As a bonus dash cams have provided many hours of YouTube videos demonstrating just how scary the roads can be and how many very poor drivers there are out there. For many of the same reasons, more and more cyclists are also riding with video cameras on their bikes because let’s face it when you are riding a bike, and you get involved in an incident with a car driver it is rare that you will get the benefit of the doubt from an investigating law enforcement officer.
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It was a nice spring day in the rural foothills east of Redding, California.
I was taking my girlfriend for the first time on my favorite east-side ride over Ponderosa Road. She was doing very well, as a relatively new recreational cyclist. She was fresh off her first century ride. I was so excited, I couldn’t stop yammering about how awesome this ride was. We were no more than 30 minutes in the saddle, on a long straight section with about a half mile of visibility in either direction. I was riding in the front breaking the wind because I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle for her.
I heard it coming, a big truck. I figure it wouldn’t be a big deal, a good dozen cars passed us in tighter spots and they gave us plenty of room. I yell “truck back” and we hug the white line, no shoulder at all, and the truck passes us, no on-coming vehicles in sight. The truck mirror came within 6 inches of my shoulder and the horse trailer wheel within inches of my leg. They were going about 60 miles an hour.
I was scared at first, normally I don’t get scared, I get pissed. With my girlfriend behind me, I thought: 'Was she OK?' 'Was she in the ditch?' I looked over my shoulder and she was upright and shaken, a mix of fear and anger on her face. I asked her if she was ok, she couldn’t even speak. I became enraged as I realized that this truck, hauling a horse trailer, buzzed a girl with a blonde ponytail wearing a pink on her jersey. I took off in anger, in a knowingly futile and emotional 45 minute time trial, pounding the pedals, hoping that this driver would stop at the Whitmore Store and I could get his plates to report him. I almost threw up. I was two minutes too late, the store clerk told me.
Completely wiped, I gave up on catching the trucker. I loop back around to find her. Within a few miles I found her on the side of the road. She is still standing, straddling the bike, head resting on her hands on the handlebars, sobbing. I should have never left her.
This wasn't the first time something like this has happened, it wouldn't be the last. I have ridden with other women that have been directly assaulted by people with their vehicles on the road.
There is no gender bias, race bias, nationality bias, social class bias, as a person on a bicycle. There is only bias towards the bicycle.
This video is the most honest and real testimonial that have seen come out of cycling. Take two minutes to listen Milleygoat Tanner's words.
Humans in cars
There are 3 main types of drivers that violate our 3 foot space. The unaware drivers are unskilled at recognizing how close their vehicle is to the bicyclist in relation to their speed and how unnecessarily uncomfortable, or even frightened they can make the person on a bicycle feel. These people simply have no connection to the cyclist experience and behaviors exibited by these drivers are completely unintentional. The distracted drivers are indiscriminate about who they harm or kill, including themselves. And the aggressive drivers are purposeful, ranging from intimidation to ending a life.
And then there are the sane, aware, decent human drivers that give people on bikes safe passing every day. Thank you.
Today, AB 1371 the “Three Feet for Safety Act” goes into effect.
This is what you need to know.
- If law enforcement didn't see it, it didn't happen.
- Motorists who get caught violating the new law will face a $35 fine plus fees, or a $220 fine — $959 with fees — if a collision occurs. Where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, the law will be valuable because it establishes a basis for citing the driver for unsafe passing.
California now joins twenty-four other states with similar laws.
The three foot law alone, will not protect you.
I don't really see this law having any impact on the aggressive or distracted driving problems we face on the road every day. The law is a tool that does a couple of things, it has the potential to educate some unaware drivers and it can help you take legal action against the unaware, aggressive or distracted drivers.
The thing is, a law enforcement officer must witness the violation, and side with you. You have to CYOA- Cover Your Own Ass. This means the burden of proof is on you. Unless you have a POV camera to prove you were assaulted, this law is just an educational piece (which is a great thing). But, if the law enforcement officer didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.
Lets face it, this almost never happens.
You have to cover yourself and this is what you should do.
- Get a POV camera and use it.
- When blatantly passed to close or harassed by a motorist show the clip to your local Law Enforcement.
- Post your video to YouTube with the plate number if you have it.
- Feel free to ask questions of Ride Redding on this post or Social Media.
What POV Camera should I consider?
The smaller, lighter option. The menu and on/off procedures are a bit clunky but it is light and compact. Make sure you get the extra battery pack, even with the extra battery pack you only will get about 2 hours recording ride time and need a 32gb class 10 SD card. The GoPro has an optional viewing attachment, but it will take the place of the extra battery. Run time will be reduced.
Garmin VIRB action cam
Much easier to turn off and on, as well as easier to swap batteries. It has an integrated playback screen which is good if law enforcement arrives on scene and you need immediate proof. The Elite has GPS integrated with the video to further help your case. The only drawback to the Garmin VIRB is that it is a little on the bulky side.
The Fly 6 is a purpose-built combination tail-light & rear-facing HD camera that loop records. A pretty cool, small, functional & affordable addition to a front facing camera. You can get it at http://fly6.com.
If you can afford to mount two cameras on your bike that is great. If not, it's a good idea to record what you see by mounting it on your helmet. By doing so you get the additional effect of letting drivers know that you are recording them. You would be amazed by how much respect you get with that.
If you have a Garmin EDGE and want to keep your handlebar mount set up clean and light, the K-EDGE combo mount allows you to mount your EDGE and either your GoPro or VIRB right under it.
Resolution and frame rate
Two basic things to think about: resolution and frame rate.
Resolution is the size of the image. Bigger is better for beauty shots, but not necessarily if your goal is to document a dynamic scene. You also have to take into account the frame rate because there is an inverse relationship between resolution and frame rate.
Frame rate is how many times a second that the camera is taking an image. The higher the frame rate, the less blurry the individual frames will be. Higher frame rate is better to capture fast moving details like license plates off vehicles. So I tend to chose the lower resolution and higher frame rate for this reason.
Loop mode allows you to record video continuously while saving only the most recent video footage. All 3 of the POV's if have listed here allow you to do that.
Ride Redding will be having a POV workshop in the coming months, including mounting, operation, downloading, editing and posting workflow.
Remember, if law enforcement didn't see it, it didn't happen.
Reporting harassment or even a collision with an irate, aggressive and or distracted driver often leads to law enforcement and the legal system siding with the driver. Having a POV camera on your bike or helmet can really help your case. Along with the hard to dispute footage it can be posted to social media and help you catch a license plate that is o so hard to catch when your heart is racing fearing for your life or laying on the ground after a hit and run.