Is this a legal first? Cyclist's helmet cam footage helps convict driver

Bottle thrower fined, points on licence - are you aware of any precedent with cyclists' helmet cams?

by Simon_MacMichael   September 15, 2010  

Bottle Throwing Van Man (credit - idontpayroadtax on YouTube).png

In what is thought to be the first time that footage from a cyclist’s helmet camera has helped secure a conviction, a van driver has reportedly been cautioned for assault and charged with driving without due consideration, resulting in him being fined and receiving five points on his driving licence, according to the website iPayRoadTax.com.

In June this year, the website, which was founded to dispel myths about “road tax” – abolished in 1937, but which cyclists are regularly accused of not paying – highlighted a YouTube video in which a van driver and cyclist exchanged words after the cyclist was cut up, the incident ending with the driver throwing a bottle of orange juice at the bike rider before speeding off.

The whole incident was captured on the cyclist’s helmet-mounted camera, and you can also read the full exchange on the iPayRoadTax website. The footage was subsequently taken down from YouTube, with the anonymous cyclist, whose YouTube user name is idontpayroadtax, telling Carlton Reid, the founder of iPayRoadTax, that the driver had been reported to the police and he did not want to prejudice the case, which has now been decided.

Although there are a large number of cyclists who post helmet cam footage of bad driving they witness on their rides, including road.cc user Joby Spragg, we believe this is the first time that footage from a cyclist’s helmet-cam has helped secure a conviction, although if you know of any such cases, we’d be glad to set the record straight.

However, away from cycling, private film from head-mounted cameras has been successfully used in evidence before. In 2008, in the first case of its kind, Darren Ingham from Salford was convicted of a public order offence and given a two-year supervision order after stopping on his bike to threaten and abuse two traffic wardens who were issuing parking tickets.

In the meantime, you can show your support for iPayRoadTax by sporting one of their pretty stylish jerseys made by Foska.
 

37 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

alotronic wrote:
I am buying one.

Can you write us a guide and recommend some kit please editors?!

yeah, okay. Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [6908 posts]
16th September 2010 - 13:02

like this
Like (2)

I am now a helmet cam convert and am currently liasing with the Police after an incident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hinrf9D-TAA

There is no realistic chance of a prosecution here however the Police have taken it seriously and are going to visit the driver and have a "friendly" chat about his dangerous driving and suggest that future incidents will likely result in prosecution. This is in marked contrast to a formal complaint I tried to make against a different driver a year ago for a similar incident but without the camera footage it was, "my word against his."

Check out www.fightbaddriving.co.uk

posted by RhodeLong [2 posts]
16th September 2010 - 13:06

like this
Like (1)

Disgraceful behaviour by the van driver. It is clear that his driving can only be described as dangerous, he should no longer have a driving license, regardless of what he uses his van for.

I know plenty of cyclists who wouldn't have reacted as calmly as our videographer, good on him for taking the appropriate steps. Poor show on the courts for allowing the driver to escape with such a lenient punishment.

Though I have to agree that the "No such thing as Road Tax" argument was not going to work on this driver; though in the interest of doing my bit, I've changed all our work invoices to read Vehicle License, instead of Road Tax, as well as all references on my website.

I was under the same misconception as the general public until this website put me straight; though I hasten to add I never used it as a reason to run cyclists off the road.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
16th September 2010 - 13:29

like this
Like (1)

going off topic a bit, but however road tax is funded it's a smaller part of a bigger issue isn't it?

stop at red, i pay road tax; all aspects of a bigger problem we all face, that of a lack of respect and understanding (at times in both drections, or between riders and pedestrians) between people in general. these points all seem to be debatable by on each side whatever the facts and all come back to the fact that driving in the uk is a low-responsibility yet high-consequence action. A kitchen gets checked once every 6 months for cleanliness, yet once you have a driving licence that's it, you're almost free to drive for life? well maybe the odd delay if you cause serious injury and don't get a good defence lawyer, but the penaties are not exactly harsh compared to industrial accidents or other comparable responsibilities. driving seems to be considered to be a 'right' here in the UK.

I also see people riding in a way that riles as much as bad drivers because they are part of the excuse for those drivers who give me no room / right of way in the first place. to every rider who jumps red lights, shouts at pedestrians who don't hear them, undertake etc, you're making it worse for all of us...

We need to get our own house in order as well as fight for better rights in general, across the board. the right to ride in safety should be protected by better laws, but there must be some reason why we can't get this right in the UK while most other European countries have fewer real problems. Is UK road's over-crowding or a possesive 'right of way' mentality a large part of it?

maybe helmet cams are a good idea, but like overly-bright, strobing rear lights, they may annoy others as much as defend us.

posted by james-o [170 posts]
16th September 2010 - 13:35

like this
Like (3)

Overly-bright strobing rear lights are a problem? They annoy drivers? Good. You've been noticed, then.

Of course, iPayRoadTax is a very small part of the overall picture, but Every Little Helps.

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
16th September 2010 - 14:22

like this
Like (1)

Carlton Reid wrote:
Overly-bright strobing rear lights are a problem? They annoy drivers? Good. You've been noticed, then.

Annoying drivers is a good thing? Why so confrontational Carlton? What do you think of drivers who annoy you - and then revel in the fact? It's this kind of cycling-fascism that puts the rest of us in the gutter.

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
16th September 2010 - 14:52

like this
Like (1)

Finding the right medium between a light that makes sure I'm seen, and a light that isn't annoying has proved very hard. Frankly, I've more or less given up, and accepted that some drivers will find my lights annoying. I can only hope they'll overlook that and accept that I'm making the effort to be seen.

I wouldn't say it's a good thing to annoy drivers (or any other road user for that matter), but it's certainly good that they've seen me.

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [225 posts]
16th September 2010 - 14:58

like this
Like (4)

I'm with you there tim - I don't particularly want to annoy drivers, but if that is a by product of not being squashed by them I'll just have to live with it.

Recently Bath Council have spent a lot of money on traffic calming and constructing a new bus lane on the first part of my route in to work - at certain points it funnel drivers who've just been unleashed from the slow moving roads of downtown Bath in to a couple of choke points, just when they really want to put their foot down on the drive out of Bath. The road looks like a dual carriageway, but isn't the limit is 30mph. It really is the most ill thought out piece of traffic management* I've ever had the misfortune to ride through and it will kill a cyclist sooner or later. After nearly being squished on too many occasions last week - including twice being physically knocked sideways by the back wash from speeding lorries passing centimetres from my side - i fitted a big old Cateye back light and I turned it on during the day - result a massive drop in the near miss squish count. I further reason that if some bugger does knock me off they will have some explaining to do as to why they didn't see me.

*Ironically just past the last lethal choke point there's one of those signs that flash your speed at you and tell you to slow down - everyone slows down for that, dunno why they just couldn't have put in a series of them all the way up the hill… (oh did I mention these are all drivers speed up a very long hill, I on the other hand and very much not speeding up it) maybe that would have been too much like joined up thinking or something.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4099 posts]
16th September 2010 - 15:20

like this
Like (1)

How can a driver really get annoyed by a flashing cycle light? You can't be behind it for long enough and if it makes you aware of the cyclist then you should be pleased.

The only light based annoyances are those of cars either:

1. Driving with front foglights illuminated in clear conditions

2. Drivers who choose to illuminate only their parking lights when driving in poor or dark conditions like early morning, rain or dusk. It's only the next stage on the switch! Just keep turning it!

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
16th September 2010 - 15:42

like this
Like (2)

Carlton, you're right but there is a difference between being seen and safe and going too far - you have to see things from a stressed driver's pov and it's not a rational debate at that moment, it's a reactionary split-second where we risk coming off worst. justice etc is too late then. If you use one of those really bright, pulsing lights it can be a distraction / wind up to drivers sat behind you at lights - i mean those 1 watt+ rear lights, they are seriously eye-burning when at eye level. drivers are a lot more keen to get in front of you as soon as they can after sitting behind one of those.. On an unlit country road they are great for being noticed at a distance - less so in close / slower city traffic.
of course we need to be noticed and i dont excuse the rationale of this, but a visible helmet camera, a big road tax logo or a super bright strobing light are the kind of things that can be seen as 'confrontational' by some and do wind up some drivers - it's wrong but it's those split-second moments of pent up aggression that result in us being cut up. that's the point i'm trying to make. starting the debate is right, it needs to be had, but maybe the roads are not the best place for it.

i'm not one for apologising for my presence and i do ride assertively, but i also know that there are ways of avoiding stressing out the traffic-jam bound any more than they often already are. reflectives and constant lights, or smaller flashers, are just as effective and i find i get less stress on the roads when using them. just from my experience of daily slow, inside-the-m25 riding anyway. a lot will depend on where you ride - Tony i can see your point in traffic like that.

anyway my original point here is that we need a more cover-all campaign to get behind as an industry, as a body of people with rights and with the growing public interest in cycling. Roadpeace seems the closest? maybe as a more recent-years commuter i've missed it before, but have we ever all really got behind roadpeace as a charity / campaign that doesn't pitch any group against another, one that simply highlights the danger of the roads and the need for attention, care and common courtesy? if we put all our attention on the various aspects into looking at the bigger picture, maybe we can get somewhere. it's a simpler message that appeals to people to respect others over thoughts on tax, regisrattion plates etc..

posted by james-o [170 posts]
16th September 2010 - 16:38

like this
Like (2)

Confrontational? Fascist?

Because I advocate bright lights?

"Be seen, be safe."

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
17th September 2010 - 7:46

like this
Like (1)

You don't need to be wearing a helmetcam, iPayRoadTax jersey or pulsing strobe to be cut-up by motorists. The biggest provocation is simply being a cyclist.

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
17th September 2010 - 7:51

like this
Like (2)

I don't think I've ever been dazzled by a cyclist's rear light, or one on a car for that matter - when I am dazzled by the lights of oncoming traffic (whatever it is) my instinct is to slow down… simple self preservation. Surely only the suicidal or the murderous would do anything else?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4099 posts]
17th September 2010 - 8:06

like this
Like (3)

Tony - re the idea yesterday for a helmetcam piece. I think this conviction will see a rise in interest in cameras, so do a piece ASAP!

The camera used, BTW, was a Contour HD. I've revised the piece http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=415

That story got a staggering 29,000+ unique visits yesterday. It got picked up by Reddit and Pistonheads.com. That's a lot of motorists exposed to how roads are actually funded, and that cyclists might be riding with cameras. Over time, this belief that cutting-up cyclists might be recorded on film might just calm down a lot of motorists.

It's an awful indictment of our car-dependent society that motorists will only give us a wide berth because some of us might get them convicted with video evidence.

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
17th September 2010 - 8:48

like this
Like (0)

Yep, we're on it Carlton.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4099 posts]
17th September 2010 - 9:15

like this
Like (1)

"Confrontational? Fascist?

Because I advocate bright lights?"

No Carlton. It's because you openly endorse angering other road users as a way of reducing road cycling casualties. Were other road users to employ these deliberate tactics on cyclists you would be, and indeed have been, amongst the most vocal of critics.

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
17th September 2010 - 12:50

like this
Like (1)

james-o wrote:
If you use one of those really bright, pulsing lights it can be a distraction / wind up to drivers sat behind you at lights - i mean those 1 watt+ rear lights, they are seriously eye-burning when at eye level.

So is sitting behind another driver in the winter who keeps his foot on the brake with a high level brake light rather than using his handbrake.

Rode the E'Tape Caledonia - first sportiv ever and thoroughly enjoyed it

badbunny's picture

posted by badbunny [71 posts]
17th September 2010 - 13:17

like this
Like (1)

First point - this is an extremely aggressive and dangerous driver. He pulled out of the junction and cut the cyclist up. He probably would have done the same to a car and it just seems to be his dysfunctional attitude and personality rather than anything to do with the cyclist.

Second - because he was a cyclist, the driver then compounded it by clearly baiting him and trying to run him off the road. I don't think he would have done this to a car. He threw a bottle at him - which unfortunately, I and several other of my mates have experienced. One was a half drunk can of Heineken ... it refreshes the parts other van drivers can't reach (like their brain cell - singular).

Third - seems to be a bit of a second thread developing about cyclists winding up drivers by fitting bright lights. Sorry guys (drivers) - but are you nuts? I ride (and drive a car) and I'm delighted to see cyclist lit up like a Christmas tree. As far as I'm concerned, the brighter the better ... be safe, be seen! If these itsy bitsy lights are hurting your eyes, then don't get so bloody close to them!

On a final point, I was hit yet again by a car yesterday. I had lights on and they weren't the retina-destroying type. He could see me fine - he just thought he'd cut into the cycle lane to get 1 car length in front of the next car. He's an idiot - got nothing to do with what lights I had on or not! Unfortunately, you'll always get these people and all lights will do will reduce the accidents at the margin, as these muppets will still drive dangerously.

Safe miles,
Mark

Go interactive!
Get the best training diary available - Free!
http://www.trainsmart.com/SmartZones

Mark Clarke's picture

posted by Mark Clarke [20 posts]
17th September 2010 - 14:38

like this
Like (1)

@RhodeLong
It's great that they are at least going to have words with the driver as the driving is definitely designed to intimidate. I've had some minor success with reporting a close overtake to the Police (with associated helmet cam footage); they claimed a letter would be sent to the driver.

Very pleased that, as per original article, there has now been a successful prosecution.

Regarding kit, it all depends on budget. I use the MiniHDVR from Dogcamsport and can recommend that. If you want something really rugged go for a Vio POV1.5 - pricey though!

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [91 posts]
17th September 2010 - 16:28

like this
Like (1)

The main thing i've learned while riding my bike here in Denmark is simple, being right doesn't matter if you're dead.

I'm not saying that drivers should get away with dangerous driving, they shouldn't. But have been hit by a car, getting a trip to the emergency room and almost a month of the bike. Now i'm cautions, rather safe than sorry, so now i don't ride without a brightly colored vest or jacket anymore, rather look like a fool than be missed.

When i use my car i give bikeriders the attention i hope to recieve myself. Only overtaking when it's safe, not riding their rearwheel and so on, i can't see how 1 min in my traveling time can ever be worth injury to another person.

My point is to many drivers do not realize that they are sitting in a weapon, 2 tons at 50 mph will kill almost anything it hits. And it's always hard to put yourself in anothers position because, when you're late nobody is as late as you, or when you're in pain no one else could ever be in worse pain than you. Their situation is always unique.

But i can only say that behaving like they do will only worsen the situation. Provoking will not resolve a situation that some what comes from cars getting better and safer to drive. If you felt your life was in peril everytime you did 60 mph in your car you wouldn't do 60 mph very often.

Any way just my thoughts.

posted by Jakal79 [48 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:09

like this
Like (1)

Obviously I'm out of touch here but I had no idea there were cyclists out there worrying about over-brightness of rear LEDs.

Powerful front lights might be an issue cos they can blind oncoming motorists and cyclists but never once have I thought rear LEDs could be eye-searingly dangerous. You have studies to back up your claim?

In the meantime, go check out this new report. It's DfT's research on what drivers think of cyclists (clue: most think we shouldn't be on the road cos we don't pay road tax and we aren't bright enough in the dark):

http://www.bikehub.co.uk/news/bike-to-work/drivers-dont-think-cyclists-s...

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:09

like this
Like (1)

Anyone got a link to these "overly bright" and "annoying LED's" ? My impression from the rear lights I've seen are they are not up to the job.
Totally agree with what Mark Clarke says above , couldn't have put it better myself. Applause

take care
Chris

posted by cjc119 [2 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:34

like this
Like (1)

and you can check out that DfT report here as well http://road.cc/content/news/24074-oi-cyclist-get-road-dft-report-highlig... We'll be following this up over the next few days too. Friday afternoon isn't a good time for getting a quote for some reason Thinking

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4099 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:48

like this
Like (1)

It's one of the most explosive reports I've seen, which is why I got it straight up on BikeHub.co.uk. Good to see you reporting on it, too. Lots of bike sites need to pick up this story and, er, bike with it.

Naturally, I'm rather interested in the 'road tax' bits and why DfT didn't stress it doesn't exist. Report author - I'll be charitible, it's Christmas - seemed to be clueless on VED and roads funding.

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [104 posts]
17th September 2010 - 18:37

like this
Like (1)

Apologies if I've restated anyone else's comments (there are quite a few), but:

The van driver used his vehicle as a weapon. He got off lightly. I could vent my spleen using lots of colourful words as would have been the case if it had been me on the bike. He should have got a custodial. Over 2 tonnes of metal against a person with an extra 9Kg of metal just illustrates that the van driver is perhaps the missing link science has been looking for.

Secondly: bright lights. Drivers have a point here (though not this one). I use twin Fenix LD20's on strobe mode in built up areas. Purely because I've come to learn that no matter how bright your lights are, people/cars/dogs/kids still won't see you. BUT an incident made me think different. A motorist pulled me over one day, and in a perfectly reasonable manner explained that flashing lights make it hard for a motorist to judge distance. I didn't agree with him at the time, but the message sunk in,and this winter I don't plan to use front or rear lights on strobe mode (fenix LD20's flash about 20 times a second, which is perhaps 'unhelpful'.

Thirdly: I was knocked off my bike 20 months ago and successfully won my case in court. I'm not blowing my trumpet - it was such a long drawn out dirge of an affair; it has made me reassess how I react to motorists who are either genuine arseholes, or who just make genuine mistakes. So, with or without camera, you have to gauge whether it's worth investing the effort in going for a prosecution. Though it's unfortunate that so many cyclists have to get knocked off in order to secure a prosecution (I refer to an earlier comment about the police having a 'friendly chat' with a motorist who cut somebody up... No one was hurt, so that's alright, eh?).

Spot on with this one, but camera doesn't give you impunity all of the time.

posted by carl j [23 posts]
17th September 2010 - 22:52

like this
Like (1)

As to road tax or not -- the cyclist said when the driver argued he didn't pay the road tax "niether do you -- road tax hasn't been around since 1937" that is not an issue. Drivers also gripe that cyclist's don't pay gasoline taxes. So what? What fees or taxes I may or may not pay has nothin' to do with you choosing to attack me like a crazy person.

Seriously, if the driver was right about the road tax, or whatever, would it change the fact that he cut the cyclist off, deliberately obstructed him,a nd then threw debris at him on purpose after stating his ignorance at the top of his lungs?

thelonerider's picture

posted by thelonerider [10 posts]
19th September 2010 - 19:56

like this
Like (1)

This driver should be charged with assault and battery if he threw debris at a cyclist, not driving without due consideration or whatever. Cutting the cyclist off might have been a traffic infraction, if it was accidental -- what followed, including trying to pelt the cyclist with a bottle, was not a traffic infraction but a criminal matter, same as if the cyclist had, without just cause, bashed the driver int he head with a bottle. Throwing objects isn't a driving infraction, it's an attack. Would the police charge someone who did a drive by shooting with a traffic offense simply because he was in a car when he did it? Still, I guess as other cyclists we should be glad the idiot driver wasn't made out to be a victim of a viscious bicycle gang by a sympathetic media or legal system! I had this happen in New Jersey, USA -- passenger of a school team bus brained my in the head with a bottle going up a steep hill on a main road in evening rush hour traffic. I followed the bus back into town and made reports to the police. They let the coach investigate himself and surprise none of his players fessed up. Next time I'll storm the bus like Terminator. It's nice that the law works in some places, but that doesn't mean it works in others. In some small towns there's still the attitude that we have to protect the nice happy people fromt he consequences of their actiosn, so they can grow up to be serial killers or something. I mean, what other future can a person who bashes a bottle on yer head really have? (if you're even in Berkeley Hts. NJ, keep your head down, cops won't do crap to protect you even though they have nothing else to keep them busy).

Still, glad this cyclist got his day in court, even if some of us on the other side of the pond haven't.

Maybe the cyclist should have pulled the idiot driver out of his van and introduced his face to the road surface at high velocity?

thelonerider's picture

posted by thelonerider [10 posts]
19th September 2010 - 19:59

like this
Like (2)

Well done on the conviction. When I got clipped by a van a couple of months ago - the police showed little interest in it despite having footage.

The only issue I have with it all is that I do get confrontational. Sad

My life is important to me, and when its threatened by idiots like shown in the clip above, I go into self preservation mode.

Perhaps I need anger management?

jobysp's picture

posted by jobysp [145 posts]
21st September 2010 - 14:43

like this
Like (1)

"I don't think I've ever been dazzled by a cyclist's rear light" etc -

look into a strobing 1 watt + red LED directly and say they're not a bit blinding ) a few brands make them now.

to a few here, pls just read what i was saying in context - it's at traffic lights / when stationary they can be an issue. and that was simply as an example of how some minor things add up to more stress for us on the road, wrongly or not. a common case of mionor point developing into a thread without being read by all?

anyway, that was not the main point i was trying to make, that of co-ordinated and less-specific points made towards promoting road sharing.

posted by james-o [170 posts]
21st September 2010 - 15:31

like this
Like (1)

"Oi mate, I pay road tax too you know."

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1872 posts]
21st September 2010 - 15:43

like this
Like (1)