If you’re member of the Twitterati who also rides a bike you’re almost certainly already familiar with @cyclingmikey – the mild-mannered London cyclist who uses a camera to record and subsequently report dangerous drivers. The metropolitan police has prosecuted over 20,000 motorists since it started accepting video evidence via an online portal and @cyclingmikey can take credit for 800 of them.
The Guardian this week published an article about the man behind the @cyclingmikey account. The piece reveals how Mike van Erp lost his father in a road crash caused by a drunk driver, but as he explains to Peter Walker, the reasons for his camera campaign go beyond his personal story: “I just like to think that with the power of one I’m trying to change a little bit of road safety. Most people who cycle realise that bad driving is largely tolerated by society. It’s not considered a really serious thing. Yet it’s claiming 1,800 people’s lives a year in the UK alone, and 27,000 are seriously injured. That’s a quite serious toll, isn’t it?”
Cycle cameras – a necessary evil for today’s roads?
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 lack of infrastructure is compounded by an absence of justice for vulnerable road users. We are one of the only countries in Europe to eschew something known as 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 well over 20,000 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.
Good value 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 a 4K ultra high-definition action camera that shares 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 £55 – a price that includes a case that’s waterproof to 30m and a bewildering array of mounts. The Akaso does a remarkably good job of capturing steady handlebar footage without the digital stabilisation offered by so many of its more expensive rivals.
We’ve been testing an Akaso action cam in the office and in the weeks to come we plan to chronicle the process of submitting footage to the police…given our collective experience of the daily cycle commute, it won’t be long before we capture a dangerously close overtake. In the meantime, we’re offering you the chance to win an Akaso EK7000 cycle camera.
Win your own cycle cam
To be in with a chance of winning an Akaso EK7000 action camera and accessories worth £55, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we’ll pick a winner next week.
The ethical choice
The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance (covers cargo bikes), breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.
The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.