Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Times

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Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Times

Postby KonaCommuter » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:21 pm

Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/techn ... .html?_r=2

WASHINGTON — When Evan Wilder went flying onto the pavement during his bicycle commute one morning here, he didn’t have time to notice the license plate of the pickup truck that had sideswiped him after its driver hurled a curse at him. Nor did a witness driving another car.

But the video camera Mr. Wilder had strapped to his head caught the whole episode. After watching a recording of the incident later, Mr. Wilder gave the license plate number to the police and a suspect was eventually charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

“Without the video, we wouldn’t know who did it,” said Mr. Wilder, 33, who was bruised and scraped in the crash.

Cyclists have long had a rocky coexistence with motorists and pedestrians, who often criticize bike riders for a confrontational attitude, and for blowing through stop signs or otherwise exempting themselves from the rules of the road. Now small cameras — the cycling equivalent of the black box on an airplane — are becoming an intermediary in the relationship, providing high-tech evidence in what is sometimes an ugly contest between people who ride the roads on two wheels and those who use four.

Video from these cameras has begun to play an invaluable role in police investigations of a small number of hit-and-runs and other incidents around the country, local authorities say. Lawyers who specialize in representing bicyclists say they expect the use of cameras for this purpose to increase as awareness of the devices goes up and their prices, now starting at around $200, come down.

Some riders even argue that the technology will encourage cyclists to keep themselves in check during dust-ups with drivers.

“I know my actions before and after some event are going to be recorded if I’m the one being a jerk,” Mr. Wilder said. “It makes me want to be careful.”

Bicyclists say cameras can also deter motorist harassment, a problem that many complain about and that cities like Los Angeles and Berkeley, Calif., have sought to combat with new laws.

“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.”

Gary Souza, a cyclist in Sacramento, said something like that happened to him. He wears a camera on his helmet during his 50-minute commute each way between his home and office. He began riding with the device this year after buying a $7,000 velomobile, a three-wheeled recumbent cycle with a shell around it.

“Even though it’s insured, if anything happens I figured I wanted to get it on camera,” said Mr. Souza, who works in information technology for the state of California.

A couple of months ago, Mr. Souza said, a motorist became upset after the cyclist crossed in front of his vehicle to make a turn. The driver got out of his car to confront Mr. Souza, who pointed to the camera on his head.

“I said, ‘Don’t be stupid,’ ” Mr. Souza said. “He quickly ran back to his car. I’m certain I avoided a couple blows.”

The new cameras, which have started to catch on in the last few years, are meant for shooting video and photos while skiing, surfing and doing other sports. Likewise, many cyclists use them to memorialize their rides.

GoPro and Contour make popular models; GoPro says sales through bike retailers have nearly doubled so far this year from the same period last year.

One of the most prominent bicycle crash videos so far was recorded in April by two Brazilian riders who were climbing the hills of Berkeley when a black car knocked them down and sped off. Neither bicyclist was seriously injured, according to the Berkeley police. The video of the crash has been viewed more than 362,000 times on YouTube.

The Berkeley police identified the car’s license plate and later found the man the vehicle was registered to. They believe he falsely reported his car stolen to cover up for the driver of the car and are still investigating the incident, said Capt. Andrew Greenwood, a spokesman for the police.

On a recent Friday evening, as the streets of downtown Washington were jammed with cars heading home, Mr. Wilder pedaled away wearing a camera on his forehead, looking like a spelunker wearing a headlamp. He scooted between parked cars and traffic on the road, sometimes with less than a foot of space between him and moving vehicles.

The video Mr. Wilder shot of his crash in Washington, which occurred last August, at first did not seem as if it would help much in tracking down the motorist who had struck him. But Mr. Wilder, who works in the photography department of National Geographic, examined the video frame by frame until he discovered a clear picture of the vehicle’s license plate, captured while he was lying on the ground.

The District of Columbia’s office of the attorney general charged the motorist, John W. Diehl, with leaving the scene of an accident. Federal prosecutors, who handle felony cases in the district, are also looking into the case.

Mr. Diehl’s lawyer, Adam R. Hunter, declined to comment. Mr. Diehl has pleaded not guilty, said a spokesman for the attorney general.

Mr. Wilder said, “Most cyclists don’t use cameras so Mr. Diehl may have assumed he could assault and drive away anonymously.”
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by BNA » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:35 pm

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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby Oxford » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:35 pm

yep, wouldn't ride a bike without one now. best insurance against drivers and/or witnesses telling porkies IMO.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby darkelf921 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:20 pm

Oxford wrote:yep, wouldn't ride a bike without one now. best insurance against drivers and/or witnesses telling porkies IMO.


+1 Pubs, bars and nightclubs have CCTV and rarely rely on witness statements if there is video footage when it comes to incidences. My video camera is a necessity IMO.


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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby zero » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:28 pm

Even if you don't get a plate or much view of another party in an accident, video will usually document what you were doing, state of signals facing you etc.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby KonaCommuter » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:37 pm

zero wrote:Even if you don't get a plate or much view of another party in an accident, video will usually document what you were doing, state of signals facing you etc.



If you have it mounted on your helmet it also can show that you “looked” before you entered an intersection or what-a-not. I’ve only got one camera and at present I’ve got it helmet mounted although I did enjoy it being on my handlebars......
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby darkelf921 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:54 pm

KonaCommuter wrote:
zero wrote:Even if you don't get a plate or much view of another party in an accident, video will usually document what you were doing, state of signals facing you etc.



If you have it mounted on your helmet it also can show that you “looked” before you entered an intersection or what-a-not. I’ve only got one camera and at present I’ve got it helmet mounted although I did enjoy it being on my handlebars......


I tried mounting mine on the handle bars but you miss so much. I make sure my helmet cam can even see me signaling. I exaggerate my looks to the side so the cam gets a good look as well.


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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby Aushiker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:09 pm

KonaCommuter wrote:
zero wrote:Even if you don't get a plate or much view of another party in an accident, video will usually document what you were doing, state of signals facing you etc.



If you have it mounted on your helmet it also can show that you “looked” before you entered an intersection or what-a-not. I’ve only got one camera and at present I’ve got it helmet mounted although I did enjoy it being on my handlebars......


Good point. It paid off in one incident for me as I could clearly show that (a) I looked and (b) there was no car in sight and (c) and moments later there she was pulling out in front of me. Added an element of possible speeding and reinforced the careless driving aspect.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK149DstIZM&hd=1[/youtube]

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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby KonaCommuter » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:18 pm

Nice work there Aushiker. Thanks for getting that careless driver a visit from the Police and making her pocket lighter. Hopefully she couldn’t afford fuel for a few weeks :lol:
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby wilddemon » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:22 am

bit of a gravedig but how do these cameras go for battery life? Is is possible to carry back up batteries? I'm assuming that the memory cards on these things is sufficient for 10 hours or so recording? Don't normally do 10 hour rides but 8 hours does happen.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby Aushiker » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:25 pm

wilddemon wrote:bit of a gravedig but how do these cameras go for battery life? Is is possible to carry back up batteries? I'm assuming that the memory cards on these things is sufficient for 10 hours or so recording? Don't normally do 10 hour rides but 8 hours does happen.

I suggest you take a read/post your question in this thread which is about video cameras. It really comes down to the camera and the card size and I guess the resolution one is recording at.

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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby Rhubarb » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:24 pm

wilddemon wrote:bit of a gravedig but how do these cameras go for battery life? Is is possible to carry back up batteries? I'm assuming that the memory cards on these things is sufficient for 10 hours or so recording? Don't normally do 10 hour rides but 8 hours does happen.


I run a $35 808 Jumbo camera from ebay which enables you to charge from external battery while recording. My velomobile has USB outlets, so with a 32Gb card, I can record continuously for a looong time.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby zero » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:47 am

wilddemon wrote:bit of a gravedig but how do these cameras go for battery life? Is is possible to carry back up batteries? I'm assuming that the memory cards on these things is sufficient for 10 hours or so recording? Don't normally do 10 hour rides but 8 hours does happen.


The battery on a cheap 720p otek goes for about 1hr 40 mins, is removable and extras can be had for ~$6 from ebay. 5 batteries would pretty close to cover an 8 hour ride. Given that one of my bikes weighs 15kgs, 60g of extra batteries sure isn't going to be noticeable.

You could exchange the memory card at the same time you switch the batteries or bring a 32gb card, and you can economise on card usage by using 720p instead of 1080p on a more expensive camera.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby jules21 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:33 am

for the cameras that have USB jacks for charging (e.g. 808 series), you can attach a battery pack. i haven't tried it, but it seems you can piggy back battery packs. one external battery pack will get you 4-5 hrs? of recording time.
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Re: Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents - NY Ti

Postby GraemeL » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:08 pm

If you are using a jumbo, you can record for 4 hours approx, using a external battery available from ebay. It will use the batteries power before the cameras, camera = 1.5 hrs, battery 2.5 hrs. So 2 batteries and fully charged Jumbo = 6,5 hrs.

Battery available here http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/External-Bat ... 71a&_uhb=1


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