It’s not easy cycling around with a camera on your helmet. You get the odd question from other cyclists and many odd looks from pedestrians. The biggest issue is the comments and messages you get on youtube. Having a popular youtube channel which attracts many views, i often get messages and comments that are hateful to myself and cyclists in general. With threats not being uncommon. Most of these are from keyboard warriors, who I doubt would be able to do much to harm me.
I tried at first to reason with these users and try to teach them about the errors they made. But I soon learned that this was pointless and now I just delete them. This isn’t the only sort of hatred that I get. Looking at the youtube insight reports on some of my popular videos, i can see what websites people came from to view my videos. This is great to see which newspapers and blogs have posted my videos but it’s not so good when you see various forums that have threads on my videos and all you see are nasty comments aimed towards my self and other cyclists.
Apart from those minor things, having a camera is pretty good. You know that most of the time, if there is an incident then you have it on camera to back up what you did and what the other driver did. You can lay in rest knowing that everything said and all actions taken where on film, and as long as you can control your self, you know that 9/10 you have done nothing wrong. I say that because we aren’t all perfect, and when cycling with a camera I suggest that it is best to cycle as perfectly as possible so that your evidence isn’t corrupted by your own stupid behaviour.
Having a camera isn’t all about filming bad drivers and inconsiderate cyclists, they are the perfect tool for campaigning. Take for example, my videos of the Cycle Superhighway, throughout route 7’s production I have been documenting the ongoing work and what i think about it. Not only that but also documenting how it’s being used. For example one junction when full with traffic, the superhighway is blocked and a lot of cyclists take to the pavement to get ahead of the traffic. This could easily be resolved if the junction was re-designed to give cyclists some priority and not allow vehicles to turn right.
One of my videos about the superhighways has got over 20,000 views, it was posted on many blogs and in newspaper articles and lets not forget being broadcasted on the news. What this lead to was some important people seeing it, and noticing that it was getting views. In turn I have been contacted on several occasions by TFL, asking me if i want to test the cycle hire bikes nearly 2 months before release and riding the superhighway with the project manager who spoke about its improvements and future development. I’ve also met with the roads policing unit at the MET Police. Where we talked about many things, including my cycling style and how it can be improved and also the road safe website and system behind it.
There is a large community of cyclists with helmet cameras on youtube, most of us are subscribed to each other, and we all watch each others videos, leaving comments and advice on how to avoid similar situations in the future. Some of us make improvements to our videos by adding new features. VeryMadMart created a java application that overlays data from a Garmin device onto your video and displays various data readings. I believe TheVexatiousLitigant was the first person to have a rear view camera as well as a forward facing one. And I was the first one to use picture in picture with rear and forward facing cameras. By doing these things, you get people’s interest in your videos and hopefully you help get your point across. You know you have a good idea when people start to ‘copy’ you.
To sum it up, having a camera brings you into a part of the cycling community and can open some pretty amazing doors but be ware, you will get some nasty comments, don’t take them to heart, just ignore them and continue doing what you are doing.