Friday 20 July 2012

Time to Stop Helmet Camming?

Without a doubt there are a couple of my videos that look pretty scary. One very obvious and now quite famous one springs to mind. My '20cm from Death' video.

It certainly looks scary, and you can tell from my reaction at the time that it was scary. I honestly thought my time was up.

I think it is incredibly important to post videos like that as it shows quite clearly how bad it 'can' get for cyclists on the road. In fact the reality is it can get worse. I'm sure I wasn't the first cyclist to get that close to being wiped out, and I know that many others haven't been so lucky. Of course the vast majority of the time I have uneventful rides to and from work. I love my commute. But does that mean it is safe?

One criticism that my videos sometimes receive is that they can put people off cycling. In fact, on twitter I have been told by someone that I trust, that they know of a cyclist who was put off cycling after they watched my videos.

So are my videos a driving force for good, or am I part of the problem?

I'll ignore the cries of 'problem' that will have undoubtedly been shouted by my YouTube haters at that point!

First, let me balance the argument. Over the years I have, every so often received a thank you message via the YouTube messaging service thanking me for my videos. Occasionally they thank me for the 'entertainment value' and for the joy that my 'girly screams' bring. However, the majority have thanked me because of what the videos have taught them. Sometimes it is because I have highlighted an issue that they as a cyclist have faced as well and the have learned from me, or from my mistakes how to avoid it themselves. Sometimes I even get messages from car drivers thanking me for explaining why cyclists cycle the way they do, . Surprisingly though I have often been thanked for encouraging the viewer to get out on their bike and cycle.

You wouldn't think videos like my 20cm video would encourage anyone to cycle, would you!?!

What is surprising though is that when people see the things that can go wrong on the roads in my and similar videos they feel forewarned. They understand what can go wrong and why, and they feel more confident in starting out as a new cyclist as having watched these videos they have an idea of what issues and problems to look for.

However, it is entirely possible that people like this are the exception, and that my videos do put people off cycling. Am I to blame though? Should this be a sign that I should stop posting these videos?

This is where I ask the reader to go and have a look at a few of my video incidents again. Pick a few ant random and while watching the video and ask yourself this question:

Would the incident have occurred if there was properly funded, properly designed, fully connected cycle infrastructure at that section of the road? If there was I would undoubtedly be using it.

If the incident wouldn't have occurred and we acknowledge that I am not a cycling maniac out looking for incidents (I know that some will find that a difficult pill to swallow), then what is the answer to getting more people out on bikes in safety? Is it for me to stop filming my commute and to stop posting incidents online? Or is it for our politicians to realise that if they really do want more people to take up active travel that we need funded, designed, connected cycle infrastructure.

Perhaps what my videos show is that our roads are not designed for cars and cyclists to mix safely. At the moment safety depends on people doing the right thing. That is drivers driving correctly arround cyclists and cyclists cycling safely around cars. Yes the majority will do that safely, but it only takes an idiot or two to make a serious accident.

So lets design our roads not just to make them convenient and fast for those that chose to drive a car, but for everyone.

Let's make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.


  1. To those who hate cyclists filtering...part 2

    I had the most positive comments when I posted this vid on Facebook, it still makes me smile :)

  2. There is no point in trying to make out that there are not risks associated with riding on our roads. Nothing in life is risk free, but some risks are more unacceptable than others, and if we are serious about changing things we have to expose the level of risk.