Friday, April 27, 2012

Car Vs. Bike: Long Term Outcome

As a cyclist in the city and suburbs, I took particular note of this story in today's SFGate of a cyclist who recorded being hit by a car, who seemingly veered into the two bikes, and then proceeded on, as if nothing had happened. Take a look below; the actual crash happens around 2:35:


Now this is horrific, to say the least. But it brings up a series of observations and questions for me:
  • As the comments in YouTube all point out, earlier in the video you can see the cyclists casually blowing through stop signs, without stopping. Am I guilty of this? Yes, at rare times, when there is no one around, and not in a busy area; still doesn't make it right. Do they deserve to be karmically punished for this by the actions of the car later? Of course not. But cyclists have to remember that we are vehicles, and, as this video shows, defenseless ones. We need to obey the rules of the road, period.
  • What an amazing use of digital video! I never thought of this; brilliant. Now, if I could only find the camera that was used... From the angle, it appears to be mounted on the handlebars, not the helmet; I like that. As one YouTube commenter points out, a rear-facing one would be great, as well. I use my iPhone as a bike computer, so I keep it mounted to the handlebars (at least until my Pebble watch arrives!), but I wonder if it could be converted to capture the video and auto upload at the end of my ride? Anyone have an idea, or a suggestion on the camera?
  • On the same note, why not have an automatic camera recording solution for cars, like we see in police cars? Insurance companies can offer it as an option with their policies, like they do with their creepy trackers, or manufacturers can offer it as an upgrade. Imagine, pairing it with your home's wifi, so when you return home, it automatically uploads the video to a cloud service, then deletes the onboard to free up memory. Hell, partner with Google: a dual meaning Google Drive!
  • This incident, in a bike-crazy community like Berkeley, can easily lead to vigilantism. In this case, thanks to HD cameras, people can identify the license plate and the car make, color, and model. That's enough to rush to judgment, especially, again as a commenter points out, we don't know who was driving. Yes, we all see it, and assume it was a texting/ignorant/insane driver, but what if we find out it was a stolen car? If the identity of the car owner gets out, their house could be vandalized, they could be assaulted, or worse, all without proof they did it. Let's not compound the tragedy here, and wait for the police to do their jobs.
An interesting moment of human compassion, technology, and sociology. Interesting to see how it plays out.

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