How uploading cycling videos damages cycling

A commuter cyclist in the London morning rush ...

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons why myself and other cyclists upload footage to youtube but what is often not thought about is the damages such videos can do for cycling?

Many of the cyclists that upload videos are doing a vast amount of cycling each year, several thousand miles. A small minority of drivers will cause issues and those are uploaded on to the internet. It really isn’t a fair example of all the good drivers we have interactions with and many of us simply don’t have the time or effort to upload every good interaction we have with another road user.

I would personally say that I have over 1,000 interactions with vehicles per week, be that me passing them or them passing me. And i only will have issues with at worst, 30 of them. That is a really rough figure of 3% of drivers causing an issue.  This gives the impression to potential and other cyclists that it is worse than it really is.

I recall my business studies teacher in school telling us how bad press travels 7x faster than good press. And I think the same applies to these videos. The videos of good cycling experiences of good driving is often rather boring in comparison to the bad driving (at least that is the impression i get when i upload videos and look at the stats), the good videos don’t get anywhere near as many views as the bad ones.

Our behaviour in the videos can also have an effect on how the public view cyclists. Many already hold an opinion that we are all ‘lycra louts’ so breaking basic road laws such as red lights will just add to the reasoning behind their misinformed opinion.

Shouting at other road users also gives an impression that we are bad tempted and aggressive road users, when in reality cyclists are often a lovely bunch of people and are always up for a chat. I’m certainly guilty of this my self and I try to behave but often when you get a motorist nearly taking you out (not for dinner), the adrenaline is pumping and sometimes you say things you wouldn’t normally. Unfortunately people view these videos and think all cyclists are like this all the time, when we really aren’t.

*UPDATE*

Cycling in a position which is incorrect can also be damaging to cycling. Other cyclists may see a video of a cyclist passing a parked vehicle far too closely. And then they might copy this behaviour. Cycling in the door zone is very risky and can lead to death.
As cyclists who upload video we should try and perfect our riding style so that we are always in the correct position. This is very hard and I don’t think anyone would say they are perfect but it helps other cyclists learn.

Cyclists need to show that we have issues on the road and we are often ignored by authorities because we are the smaller vehicle. But it can have a bad side effect of putting people off cycling and making people think that cyclists are the bad one.

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5 thoughts on “How uploading cycling videos damages cycling

  1. All far points and as you say it is only the bad driving that gets an appearance on youtube. The way I look at that is I’ve uploaded about 75 clips so far in the 4 months I’ve had my camera. If you look at how much I’ve commuted in that time in really is a small MINORITY of the drivers – 5 days a week @ avg. 20 miles per day so 100 miles commuted per week so lets say 1,600 miles ridden. Then take into account how many cars I pass each day (I dread to think easily into the hundreds!) which equates to passing or dealing with around 1,000 a week which is well over 10,000 for the whole period. To only have 70 that I feel endanger my life or do something extremely stupid is I reckon statically accurate 🙂

  2. Some very salient points. Unless those posting videos post *all* of their videos of the entirety of their rides, they can be accused of editing reality. I’ve had some shocking experiences but many more experiences of great, considerate drivers.

  3. You make some good points here, though the title post is mis-leading.

    I for one mainly enjoy your cycling videos b/c they show cycling as it is on the streets of London, which I am very curious about. To this point, I could just as easily enjoy watching one of your high-quality 5 minute video of incident-free cycling with the sound turned off.
    Perhaps I am not representative of all those who watch your videos, but would be just as happy if you uploaded more videos that do not involve incidents with car drivers.

  4. Videos of crazy-mad drivers, aggressive-incompetent and incredibly stupid motorists endangering, threatening, abusing or colliding with cyclists does put me off. As a regular cyclist, if it wasn’t for the fact that it isn’t as bad in my experience, I would probably not cycle. However, I can easily see that those who don’t cycle or don’t cycle much could really be sufficiently discouraged to stop, or not even start.

    At very least, it needs to be pointed-out that while bad things can happen, like other rare occurrences, they are really rare.

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