Helmet Cameras and the Law

I posted before about the use of cameras on the road and the laws behind it. But i feel i missed a few things out that are worth noting. From before we know that the general use of a camera is perfectly legal. The information commissioner confirmed that recording for personal purposes on the road is perfectly fine and that uploading footage to websites like youtube is fine, even if it includes faces or VRNs (Vehicle Registration Number). The information commissioner also confirmed that this is not braking any part of the Data Protection Act.

What about article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

Martin Porter wrote about just this, what is more important, the right to privacy or the right to live? Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights states

Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

People have tried to spin this argument against me but the European Convention on Human Rights only applies to a state and not an individual member of the public. Let’s also not forget that the roads are a public place and there should be no expectation of privacy on them.

The Human Rights Act in the UK applies the acts from the European Convention on Human Rights to all members of the public in the UK and not just the state. But again the question is what is more important, life or privacy? The Human Rights Act states

You have the responsibility to respect other people’s rights, and they must respect yours.

How much privacy is actually broken by posting a video online? I would say minimal, everything that is displayed is public information and only friends and relatives can identify the person by their face. There have been no cases so far that relate to this so it is hard to say what the outcome would be in a court of law.

There has been plenty of media coverage about helmet cameras this year already several court cases involving footage from cameras. So far there has not been even a hint from the Police, CPS or any other legal body that using cameras and posting footage of it online is against the law.

How to do digital overlays

There has been a boom of cyclists that have started to take to the roads with video cameras. As one of them, I try to come up with and promote ways that we as a group can make our videos better. One thing that is missing from the videos is speed, and with wide-angle lenses it can often be very difficult to judge from a video just how fast a cyclist is actually traveling.

I’ve made a few videos where I have digital read outs on the video and I often get questions asking about these when I make them.

A cyclists who goes by the name VeryMadMart has made a java application that takes the files recorded by a ContourHD and the TCX files recorded by a Garmin GPS unit and puts the data on the video frame by frame with some nice graphics.

Essentially the application just needs a .mov file and a GPX file to make the overlay, so you don’t have to use a ContourHD and Garmin device.

The hardest part of doing this is trimming the video and editing the TCX XML file to match. Essentially most of the time the video and data will be slightly out of sync. I have found the best way is to use the latitude and longitude found in the XML and search that on google maps, it gives me an idea of where I’m looking at and I usually cut the start of the video to a side road or similar where I can easily match it up ‘exactly’ on the google maps. This minimises the delay from video to data to within a second in most cases.

This isn’t the only way cyclists can do this. Vholdr, the owners of the Contour brand, have released a version of their camera with GPS inbuilt to it. This makes for another way to get some information about your ride and match it up to your camera. How this works with a site like youtube I don’t know. But upload the footage on to the Contour website and it looks like the whole thing is automatic and a nice map and data is displayed next to the video.

Digital overlays and speed readouts isn’t just a gimmick, in the case of a collision the information will be vital. GPS positioning will back up what your camera says and gives you an accurate speed just before impact! No more ‘I was doing about 15mph officer’
How many motorists can do this? I bet less than 1% can!

For more detailed information on the steps involved and to download a copy of the java file, please visit VeryMadMarts website.

Airzound

New bicycles bought from a shop by law have to come with a bell, bells are ok on towpaths and at slow speeds. The problem with them is when you get to higher speeds. Pedestrians and car drivers won’t hear a bell in time to react or know where it’s coming from. This is where the Airzound comes into play, an air horn for bicycles, it blasts out a loud 115 decibels at full volume.

Why is this useful? In some occasions you need to make people aware that you are there and what better way to do it than to make an awful loud sound which could be mistaken for a truck horn. People certainly will take notice of you and hopefully react.

I’ve been using mine for several weeks and have found it very useful to warn drivers, cyclists and pedestrians of my presence.

See the Airzound website set up by Thomas Etherington with reviews and information on how to mount it to thicker road bar handlebars.

Cycle Superhighway Route 7

With major work set to start on route 7 of the London cycle superhighway in the next week or two, some doubt is coming into my mind. Although i’m confident that this will bring more people out of their cars and onto a bicycle during the summer months, which can only be a good think. I’m not so confident in the design of some of the test junctions, at present the road layout hasn’t been changed at any and only a blue strip has been painted on the ground. With the aim of the cycle superhighways is to allow cycling commuters to travel in mass from the out skirts of London and into the centre of the city. Safety should really be a priority and at some junctions it clearly hasn’t been thought out, at some points it is best for a cyclist to control the lane and cycle in the middle to attempt to prevent dangerous overtaking, nothing to accommodate or hint towards this has yet to be seen.

I shall post more videos and news on this cycle route as it progresses.