I See You
Technology has been driving some pretty interesting developments in the cycling world. Electric bikes are slowly gaining traction, and the improvements in lighting has greatly improved safety for riders. Looking into the past, it wasn’t long ago that a reliable, high powered light cost well over $500, and the battery required a wattle bottle cage mount. By shifting from halogen bulbs to LED’s, and from alkaline batteries to Lithium Ions, you can now have the same amount of light on your helmet without unsightly (and dangerous) cords.
For better or worse, GPS has also been playing a role in cycling. From mapping new trails to racing the clock on Strava, anyone with a smart phone can have detailed route and performance details at the touch of a screen. This could be a positive in that you can accurately log miles or a negative in that you take chances to pursue a King of the Mountain time. The use depends on the rider. I personally use Map My Ride all the time, but as in most of life, I could care less about the speed and time vs. the fun factor.
The other big change is the reason for this post: on board cameras. I couldn’t wait to purchase my first Go Pro, and the level of dedication they have shown to marketing has made them a POV juggernaut. At Outdoor Retailer they had strong showings of 3 dimensional films, well edited and featuring tons of beautiful scenery, human and otherwise. I immediately bought a memory card and filmed my first “movie”, riding the trails of Park City, Utah, following the trade show. My enthusiasm soon waned, as I felt I was spending to much time pushing buttons and sitting in front of a computer, watching what amounted to pretty boring footage. The camera soon found itself on Craigslist, and I was happy to see it go. Ever since I have been pretty skeptical of these devices, and seeing them on the trails kind of cracks me up.
The new on board cameras that are surfacing are a little more useful in my opinion. For the last few months, Bikesnob NYC has been posting random pictures taken with a Fly 6, a camera that is incorporated into a rear light. Now there is a completed Kickstarter program for the RideEye, which is billed as a black box recorder for your bicycle. This camera has a few features that seem really helpful, namely being able to tag an incident with the push of a button and a loop recorder that re-records over the previous day’s ride. These have the potential to help cyclists in the event of a hit and run. More riders using these could force motorists to be more responsible. From the infamous dashboard cameras of cars in Russia, to the more local footage taken of aggressive drivers, this has the potential to help cyclists.
Another possible use: shaming disrespectful riders at social rides on social media. When someone cuts you off, causes a crash or litters during Bike Party, you simply tap the button, find the mark on the footage and share with your groups. People attend social rides to be seen by their friends, nobody wants to be seen as the local idiot.
What do you think, is this a viable solution to solving problems, or an invitation for big brother to have a permanent surveillance state?