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Bicyclists Utilize Technology to Keep Bad Tempers at Bay

When it comes to agreeing on the "rules of the road," an undeniable rift has existed between motorists and cyclists for decades. While cyclists accuse cars of hogging the road, motorists charge that bike riders disregard roadway etiquette and exempt themselves from traffic laws. However, a new trend in technology may help curb the number of motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists and turn down the heat on this contentious debate.

Many cyclists are now beginning to wear small cameras on their helmets as they ride through busy city streets on their daily commutes and leisurely rides. The New York Times, which recently reported on this trend, called the little cameras "the cycling equivalent of the black box on an airplane." Footage from these cameras has the ability to provide an unbiased and objective recollection of events on the roadway, capturing the "who, what, when, and how" of dust-ups between cyclists and drivers.

While motorists were once able to speed off after hitting a cyclist, leaving the victim severely injured (or at least with frazzled nerves) these cameras prevent such an easy escape. They are able to capture details such as the license plate number on a vehicle, ensuring that the car owner can be tracked down and held accountable for their actions.

Although only a small portion of cyclists are currently equipped with this video technology, footage from these cameras has begun to play a role in police investigations of hit-and-runs and other accidents on the road. Lawyers too, say they expect to see an increased use of camera footage as evidence of reckless driving and malicious behavior toward cyclists in personal injury claims.

Bob Mionske, a former Olympic cyclist who now advocates for bicyclists and their safety, says "It's a fact of life that on American roads you get punked, cut off purposely, harassed, not once but on a regular basis." Mionske suggests that motorists will start thinking twice about running cyclists off the road once they hear about bikes having cameras.

However, motorists aren't the only ones who will be kept in check by the watchful eye of the camera. Bicyclists too will be more mindful of their etiquette on the roadway. As one New York cyclist said, the camera reminded him that his actions would be recorded even if he "was the one being a jerk."

While it is unlikely that motorists and bicyclists will ever see eye-to-eye about who is at fault in accident, this new trend in video technology may help keep tempers (and accidents) at bay.

Source: The New York Times, Cameras Act as 'Black Boxes' When Cars and Cyclists Collide, Nick Wingfield, July 20, 2012.

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