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Are cyclists using head-up displays legal?

A driver in California has been issued with a ticket for wearing Google Glass eyewear while driving, in what’s believed to be the first case of its kind.

Cecilia Abadie was initially pulled over for speeding on October 30, when the officer noticed the high-tech eyewear which runs Android apps and has a display next to the wearer’s eye.

The patrolman judged that the display impeded Abadie’s field of view and contravened California’s anti-distraction laws which forbid visible displays in cars, with exceptions for specified devices such as GPS units.

Fortunately for California’s cyclists the rules appear to only apply to motor vehicles. That means that cyclists usingGoogle Glass or the ReconJet head-up display are probably in the clear for the moment

Abadie has claimed that the headset was turned off at the time, but it’s not clear if that’s sufficient defence to get her off the charge.

The relevant section of the California vehicle code specifies that the you can’t drive if a monitor visible from the front seat is operating, but it also requires that such a screen should only be capable of being used as a GPS, car information display or manoeuvring assist while the vehicle is moving.

In the UK, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations have similar provisions. In 2010 a Blackburn man was fined for watching TV while driving, and the regulations mention displays that are able to show information from a computer. As in California, there are exceptions for GPS devices and the like.

However, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations don’t apply to bicycles, as far as we can tell, so Google Glass and ReconJet are probably legal on a bike here.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

5 comments

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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How would that work with in dash car entertainment systems? They cannot be operated while the vehicle is in motion but they are still visible

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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The Department for Transport says,

"We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.”

I can see this technology being used on closed roads, maybe the track too, but this won't be allowed on public roads and lawyers will be quick to point the finger at any cyclist having a crash when wearing such a device.

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Wolfshade [187 posts] 2 years ago
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It will be interesting. I have seen a motorcycle hemlet with a hud which was translucent which was quite clever, displaying a map and the route you were on. Certainly on some tours such a device would be useful rather than hoping you remember the route or stopping and checking on the map.

I agree with Neil that if there is a crash and a cyclist is wearing one it will be scapegoated. But who knows, there might be some sensible legislation as to where any display appears in the standard FOV.

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WolfieSmith [1318 posts] 2 years ago
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HUD's are all very well if you've been trained by experts. you're in wide open airspace and not close to other objects with your whirling rotors - but on public roads with no training - and possibly a bowl of cereal in your hands? Noooooooooooo.  102

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yenrod [106 posts] 2 years ago
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I looked into using one of these for cycling but the lenses arent much good for variety; photochromatic etc...

But they are a good idea for cyclists..I look down at my garmin means I take my eyes off the road.

A helmet mirror can take the eyes off the road just like a google glasses can soo this aint any different - more a HELP than a hindrance.