Wednesday 7 July 2010

"What's that camera doing on your head?"

For the last few weeks I have been commuting with a small camera fixed to my helmet (have I at last found a useful purpose for a helmet?).  For less than the cost or inconvenience or discomfort of a helmet, I can gather some evidence of the very poor driving that goes on around me.
Of course it cuts both ways and in the (I like to think incredibly unlikely) event that I were to cycle dangerously and, for instance, bowl into a pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing the evidence would be there to convict me.  I wish all motor vehicles carried some form of tamper proof visual and/or other record of how they were being driven.

I used the camera recently to demonstrate how I tackle dual carriageways.  Of course things do not always work out smoothly.  Here is an example, in the same location, of a large van coming straight at me, initially I move out further but then I am forced to the side of the road.  Riding as I do, I run virtually no risk of not being noticed but I do have to react smartly to drivers like this.

Yesterday I am fairly sure the existance of my camera, once spotted, saved me from a potentially threatening situation.  (Forgive my uncharacteristic expletive at the beginning - the adreneline flows when a car gets a few inches behind and honks).

I try to post incidents of good as well as bad driving but sadly there is far more that is noticeably bad than noticeably good out there.

In cases of bad driving if I can identify an employer I will contact them, as I have found that effective in the past.  I have given on this blog an example of Royal Mail but I have also in the last few days contacted AXA Insurance (Rescue24) and Tellings Golden Miller (buses).

I am grateful for the comment that pointed me towards the metropolitan police site at  I could swamp them with reports but will instead try to reserve for them the worst examples.  My commute actually takes me through Berkshire (Thames Valley Police), Surrey (Surrey police) and London (Metropolitan Police).  Surrey has a site to report bad driving at and I have reported the white van on there.

After the initial sample I do not intend to overburden this blog with video footage.  Far more can be found on Youtube where I post under the name 'Givecyclistsroom'.  Even this is a mere selection as it takes time to select and upload footage.  I am thinking of adopting the approach of emperors at the Roman arena and reporting those which outside observers consider bad - so if you so think please make a comment.

Finally is some of this aggressive bad driving a response to the way I ride?  I have discussed this here previously.  I have finally reached the top of a waiting list for cycle training and have a couple of hours booked for later this month.  I will be sure to raise road positioning and defusing driver aggression with my instructor.


  1. People in the 2nd video - complete muppets but you handled yourself well so chapeau.

    I would have reacted completely differently!

    As for people passing too close (like your first clip) - I got struck by the tail end of a tipper type truck and was sent wobbling all over the place - the chap drove right off and left me there - and the person who was driving behind him, that clearly saw what happened - slowed down, allowing me to wobble, and then when I pulled over shaking - she drove off!

    I've also had a woman in a car deliberately drive at me.


    Oh to be a cyclist!

    Keep up the good work with the clips.

    Maybe you should check out

  2. Have you tried mounting the camera on your shoulder? The footage might be a good bit steadier and that would help, I think, when sending it with a complaint.

  3. I think that *some* of the aggression is a reaction to the way that you ride. I recently had a confrontation with a motorist who purposefully nudged me with the front wing of her car, after I refused to pull to the side of the lane when approaching a junction. (I could hear her approaching, revving loudly, and held my ground in the middle of the lane, she drew alongside, in the wrong lane, and pulled into me when a car approached in the opposite direction)
    For what it's worth, I think you should keep riding how you do - taking the middle of the lane. It will invite confrontation, unfortunately, but it will also start the process of conditioning drivers to expect cyclists to be in the lane.
    I don't think that the close passing that you show is a response to where you are in the lane. I vary my position in the lane a lot, depending on many factors, and can guarantee people will always pass me within inches.

  4. I did something a bit naughty recently.

    I removed a driver's phone from their hand (they were driving at the time).

    They almost hit me whilst pulling out of a t junction and ineffectively trying to turn their car one handed whilst nattering. That was anoying enough but the driver then proceeded to wind their window down and shout at me (whilst still on phone and moving forwards, wonkily, down the street).

    Naturally my desire to prevent crime esp where the safety of others csurfaced, so I persued the car some 20 yards where it was now waiting at a red light - window down, phone in hand at ear.

    I opened the driver's door and without any resistence (only due to surprise probably) took the driver's phone, hung up, informed her calmly that she was committing an offence and putting others' lives at risk, and calmly tossed the phone onto her passenger seat.

    I surprise myself sometimes... I hbad mixed feelings about my acitons afterwards. I'm no viginlante, but I dare say I'd do it again in certain circumstances, I think.

    I wondered if such an approach was justifiable in law. An interesting academic question for someone, perhaps.

    Good work on the blog!


  5. I do not see anything wrong with that at all Jonathan. Actually I applaud it. If anybody else is tempted to try similar direct action just be careful to avoid direct contact with the driver (or giving an impression that you may strike the driver). If you encounter resistance I would ride away as you would not wish to be involved in a debate as to whether any force used by you was reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent the continuance of an offence (the seriousness of which is underrated by many).

  6. Thanks.

    It is appallingly underrated, though not I think by safety organsiations and some public bodies, who I recall rate it as dangerous as drink driving.

    Only this moring did I see a perfectly nice, 'together' looking lady going over a crossing on which a pedestrian was 1/3 of the way over - phone in hand, toddlers in carriage.

    Its a huge blind spot which could so easily resolved through an advertising campaign and the police setting up shop in a few prime places of a week day morning with a video camera.