Cyclists in Devon have been equipped with cameras to capture footage of dangerous driving.
The cycle camera trial, which aims to reduce road danger, forms part of Cornwall Police Operation Snap and allows cyclists to upload footage via an an online portal.
Devon County Council is collaborating with Ride On, a bike recycling charity in Exeter, Exeter Cycle Campaign, the Met Office, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and Exeter Science Park with the intention of rolling out the initiative to other major employers and the wider public.
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management, told Devon Live: “This trial is being undertaken because we’ve seen lots of reports of motorists not knowing the safe distance to leave when overtaking cyclists and they pass too close to them. If they’ve witnessed driving that’s dangerous, they have the reassurance that they can upload their footage to Operation Snap.”
Running a cycle cam on your handlebars or helmet doesn’t make the roads feel any safer, but you do feel less helpless. In the event of a road traffic incident, video footage goes a long way towards guaranteeing legal redress – it’s a cycle insurance of sorts.
One of the great frustrations about cycling on British roads is the challenges caused by a lack of infrastructure are compounded by an absence of justice for vulnerable road users. We are one of the only countries in Europe to eschew strict liability – a common sense law that makes motorists automatically liable for injuries caused to pedestrians and cyclists.
The result for us is that court cases rest on one person’s word against another – and given that pedestrians and cyclists are often injured in road traffic collisions, their recollection of events can be affected. And when you consider that legislators, the judiciary and jurors comprise almost exclusively drivers you begin to understand how the the cards are stacked against vulnerable road users.
How does the law regard cycle cam evidence?
Aside from the police portals designed specifically for the purpose, there is no reason why footage cannot be admitted as evidence like CCTV is used. It is likely that a witness statement would have to accompany the cycle camera footage and it would have to be downloaded to a CD with a certificate (countersigned by a solicitor) stating that it had not been altered in any way from its original digital format.
The Metropolitan Police is one of a number of forces that allows road users to upload camera footage when reporting a road traffic incident. The Met has already received tens of thousands of submissions and around two thirds lead to action being taken. Such systems are a game changer for cyclists. Evidence of close passes, abusive drivers and collisions can all be passed to the police with the click of a mouse. One imagines the thousands of drivers who have already received penalty points following an online submission of camera footage will become more considerate and careful road users as a result.
Cheap cycle cameras
There are a thousand and one different types of action camera on the market, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to spend a lot of money. The domination of the market by GoPro has inspired a host of Chinese competitors to follow suit. For example, the Akaso EK7000 is one of a number of 4K ultra high-definition action cameras that share more than a passing resemblance to a GoPro – even its various mounts are compatible. And while is doesn’t have a touch screen, it’s more than up to the job of recording the daily commute. Most importantly, it’s great value at less than £50 – a price that includes a case that’s waterproof to 30m and a bewildering array of mounts.
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