Rider Safety – Cameras, then Gravel

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I just heard an segment on NPR this morning from Austin Texas that was about bicyclists using cameras to document their rides.  It was interesting, they interviewed Hill Abell, owner of Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, and Rebecca Rush, who doesn’t need any introduction.  I think she might be down in Austin for SXSW?

Anyway, the story talked about how riders are using cameras to record their altercations they are having with automobiles.  And how popular this has become.  I’m not sure that is the best reason to have a camera on a bike, but it is a reason.

I know there is a growing animosity on the roads now.  I’ve personally witnessed the escalation my whole life.  But there is more general animosity in all aspects of life, not just between bicycles and automobiles, so I guess it is “normal”

The NPR segment said that gravel grinders, and guys riding on gravel roads, is becoming popular because of the altercations between bikes and cars.  I agree.  I know quite a few riders that feel much more comfortable riding on gravel.  Some really good riders that have been in the sport for a long time.  They feel safer.

I wonder if that is really true?  Seems like there is a higher chance of getting hurt on gravel.  Not really hurt, just hurt.  I guess if you removed 98% of the automobiles from the equation, it is safer in that respect.  If you feel safer, that is what is important.  If you don’t feel safe riding a bike, then most likely, it won’t be that enjoyable.

I’m not sure why our society is more hostile that it was when I was a kid.  When I first started riding a bicycle in Kansas, we never thought twice about running lights and stop signs.  And it didn’t bother anyone.  People would just assume we were kids and that is what kids did.  People used to wave all the time.  They would even wave while I was running a red light.  It was a just different time.

Here in Kansas, people will still wave back at you, but in general, people are too busy, maybe too self-absorbed, to be courteous to others.

Society needs to discuss our general aggression.  Alleviating hostility in society would go a long way towards a more symbiotic relationship between cyclist and drivers.

I have a Shimano Sports camera, but have never used it while training.

I have a Shimano Sports camera, but have never used it while training.

Dan Hughs at the most famous gravel race, DK200.

Dan Hughs at the most famous gravel race, DK200.

Nick Frey at last year's Land Run. I'm thinking it might be "a little" muggy again today.

Nick Frey at last year’s Land Run. I’m thinking it might be “a little” muggy again today.




18 thoughts on “Rider Safety – Cameras, then Gravel

  1. Shano

    I think you’ve nailed it here. People are just so discourteous and it’s become accepted. People I see everyday at work won’t acknowledge a “good morning”; holding a door open for a lady no longer warrants a “thank you”
    I don’t know why this is happening but I sure liked it better back in the “olden days” when people were at least courteous even if they don’t like you

  2. Bill K

    Things are only going to get worse, not better. Just look at our current political divide. One side considers the other side “monsters”, while the other side considers the first “less than human”.
    In another 25 years, it won’t be possible to ride your bike, without running into a driver who thinks that you deserve to be “taught a lesson”.

    1. barb

      this is my pet peeve……….Having been an avid road cyclist since the early 80s, more recently I primarily ride mountain bike, just for the reasons being stated in today’s blog. Growing animosity on the part of motorists toward cyclists is why it is important for cyclists everywhere to lobby for dedicated bike infrastructure. Not just a painted line with a shoulder, but a dedicated lane with a barrier. It’s coming, just maybe not in our lifetime. It’s all over Europe in the more “progressive” areas, but it seems like cyclists in America are too busy–worrying about whether they have the best carbon bike, do they have the kit others will envy, reading cycling articles on training and nutrition or how our components and frames became obsolete overnight and what to get next, or can they beat the guy around the corner in the Saturday club ride– to take an active part in local government. If enough of us got together and showed up at city council and planning meetings, we might not be worrying about being run down by drivers who don’t want to slow down to 15mph and drive behind us when they need to get somewhere. I don’t know anyone who just goes “out for a drive” anymore. People are busy, competition for jobs is stiff, and most usually have a destination and a time when they need to be there to pay their bills or keep other obligations. Waving to cyclists isn’t usually in their periphery. Better bike infrastructure is the answer. Darwin didn’t say the strongest will survive. He said the most adaptable to change will survive. The change is increased population, and competition for everything, and it is only going to get worse. The adaptation is dedicated bike infrastructure, because “they” outnumber us. In lobbying for bike infrastructure, we face mismanaged local budgets and corruption, so the precursor for what we need is funding. I know this is a sticks and rocks analysis, but it boils down to two things. Funding, and activism. Who’s going to do that when it’s just easier to talk about how hostile they are and not get involved, and expect someone else to fix the problem. Or more unrealistic, think human nature is going to change.

  3. Brandon Cavnar

    Motorists down here in Oklahoma City seem to be more tolerant and it’s getting better. I think all the bike lanes and share ways help with that respect. I’ve ridden in a Lawrence numerous times and have personally found people to be very respectful and tolerant. I don’t ride there everyday though and the presence of KU may help. I do agree hostility is on the rise. Not to make this a political discussion but fighting at the Trump rallies, increasing gun carrying, police vs citizens, and so on. This may just be my perception but tension seems to be just in the air. I think the polarized two party political system is partly to blame. Maybe generalized class warfare also. In some ways society is more tolerant though. It’s difficult to understand.

  4. Anamika

    Fed up with dangerous drivers? Cicliq.com, Fly6 and Fly12. Giver the data to the police, if their good they will issue a warning letter. Enough letters = points and cost for insurance go up. In an accident you got a record of events. Makes my ride more relaxed…less festering.

  5. The Cyclist

    “Was it a revenge for the other day? A little, yes, it did cross my mind in the finale,” said Bouhanni later, “I made a mistake the other day in not closing the door (on Michael Matthews) earlier, I started sprinting from too far out then he bumped my elbow and I lost my balance but… I was disappointed, so yes, this is some revenge for losing that stage.”

  6. Lionel

    I don’t see it as an escalation. When I started riding in the early 70s, I’d have people pour coke on me, throw food at me, throw lit firecrackers at me, have their dogs barking out the window and miss me by inches, try to shame me for wearing lycra, sick their dogs on me and laugh, intentionally drive by within mere inches (even at 70+ mph), wait for me up ahead with a tire iron because I yelled at him for almost hitting me. Very few bike lanes and I rode in fear for my life everyday, but wanted to race, so I needed to ride. Not sure how that was a better time.

  7. Rich

    Count me in the group that switched to mtn. biking. Hard to get hit by a car in the woods. Sorry, but I’ve been hit 3 times, none which were my fault (pressed charges each time).

    Also, I agree w/ poster above regarding need for protected bikeways. Until cycling is more accessible and practical for the general public, drivers will always see it as an us vs them issue. Cycling needs to be the more practical and safe choice for getting around town then driving to bring more riders into the fold. A silly paint strip isn’t protecting anyone.

  8. The Cyclist

    Nope, a silly paint strip don’t protect anyone… and nor does a separate bike lane. A friend of mine got rammed by a jogger yesterday riding on a bike lane with not a single car around. The jogger idiot was the size and weight of a football player and put all his weight into the shoulder of my friend who’s now at the hospital with a broken pelvis. Now, go figure this one out if things ain’t “escalating”.

    1. channel_zero

      Quite true.

      IMO, what’s happening is escalation of fear and the resulting overt aggression. A separate bike route doesn’t fix it.

      What’s finally happening is cities are figuring out that bikes solve their density problems. Because of that, the priority of the car is declining.

      Meanwhile, something needs to be done to develop ways for individuals to be less fearful. I don’t know what that looks like.

    1. Mark

      This is completely fucking stupid. Lmao! That is nothing more than anti-right/pro-left propaganda.

  9. Wiley

    I have only really been riding for the last couple years so I can’t really say that attitudes have gotten worse in that time, so far this year attitudes towards me have been better than past years (maybe so far I’ve just avoided the crazies). I live and ride in a large city (Minneapolis/St Paul) but make a point that the first 10 miles of any ride get me out of town, all of my issues with drivers have been in town where someone is trying to cut 20 seconds off their commute time and annoyed that I’m going 25 in a 30…
    I don’t think people who don’t ride understand that the last place we’d like to be as a rider is on a busy street in rush hour with a bunch of moving boxes being controlled by people on cell phones… I will say that how you react to badgering really does affect the reaction people have to you, so I’ve taken up a number of habits to respond to it. If at any point I feel like I’m holding up traffic I make sure the driver behind me knows I see them and give it full gas until I can slide over a bit (not bad interval training), if they still give me grief I usually give them a half smile/shrug and a hand gesture of the form of ‘please back off and don’t kill me’ (I’ve found if people can appreciate you’re trying to get out of the way they give you a lot less grief and an occasional thumbs up). Getting angry and escalating the situation has only made the situation worse from my experience…

  10. Terry

    I live in St. Louis, and it’s definitely better than it was 15 yrs ago. Maybe not the amount of cars on the road and suburban development, but the attitudes are friendlier in general. Probably because more and more motorists now know someone who rides a bike. There is always a certain angry element, and if you ride near a lot of that, wear some patriotic, militaristic jersey to protect yourself.
    I also think that a lot of situations will either escalate or de-escalate depending on the reaction of the rider. I know this first-hand, as I’ve chilled out myself over the years. You can make someone who is angry feel pretty dumb if you respond level-headed.

  11. Evan

    I live in California, and despite way more bikes on the street and bike lanes everywhere it doesn’t seem better at all compared to 20 -30 years ago. This may be a stretch, but bikes haven’t changed much since the 80s, people are, well, people, but cars and driving habits have been transformed by technology. I noticed it first around the time I quit riding motorcycles (2000) when I couldn’t see around SUVs (as opposed to looking through trucks) and tailgating turned into drafting (anti-lock brakes) – the gap disappeared. Add universal automatic transmissions, traction control, lots of sound insulation and cars are idiot proof to distraction. One used to have to pay a lot more attention when driving, maybe that resulted in fewer perceptions of surprise close calls and resulting blood pressure spikes.

  12. Gabriel25

    I think it’s because of the growing class division. Cycling is starting to be seen as an upper class sport. If you’re on a bike wearing your full kit, you must be a rich snob. Why shouldn’t your everyday working class joe take out some on anger on you? Shouldn’t you be riding on the track around your mansion instead? It’s going to be a while before we can convince others that we’re not all wealthy, just passionate, and the only way to do that is to get them on a bike as well.


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