VELO-VIDEO NASTIES

Point of view is everything. Perched on the saddle, rushing past lines of jammed traffic in London’s rush-hour, I feel supremely confident. I have twenty years of cycle commuting in the city to draw on. But take a step back, perched on a dining room stool, surfing through bike videos on the Internet and I seriously start to get the “fear”.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) says that nearly three quarters of all cycling accidents “happen at, or near, a road junction...” and cites roundabouts as being, “...particularly dangerous junctions for cyclists.”

I have been knocked over twice at junctions; once by a car pulling out in front of me and more recently, by a flatbed truck turning left sharply and running over my bike with its rear wheels. If you won’t take my word for the anarchy which reigns out on the roads, just turn to the Internet.

Lots of bicycle commuters these days ride with small video cameras fixed to their helmets, handlebars or bike frames. Many of them post the resultant footage on YouTube. Some – like laid-back, recumbent riding, Ismike, make a point of including the registration numbers of the offending motorists in the clip title. Sadly this probably has no deterrent effect whatsoever.

And the films' names are enough to put you off saddling up even before you’ve watched the videos. A random selection of helmet-cam productions from Londoner Roger Hotuk for example, are self-explanatory; “Near Miss Vauxhall Cross – Scary”; “Taxi Death Swoop”; “Forced onto the Pavement”; “Death Wish Pedestrian” and the chilling, “Life or Death? It’s your Choice”.



Sometimes the cyclists are posting film of incidents in which they have narrowly escaped becoming rush-hour road kill. On other occasions they manage to capture near misses or bad cycling (yes, many bike riders are irresponsible) featuring other people.

Glasgow cyclist, Magnatom is a prolific poster and warns that while some of his clips show hairy road moments, “the vast majority of... (his) journeys are uneventful and enjoyable.” His encounter with an angry Glaswegian motorist however is a full-blown ‘incident’ which verges on attempted assault, using a car as a lethal weapon.

Just like EMDcam I frequently rely on a sixth sense to gauge the mood of some car users. You often feel the angry vibe even when the vehicle in question is still behind you. The way they rev their engines and nose the car right up behind your back wheel, so that you can literally feel the car ‘breathing down your neck’, is a sure sign that the person behind the wheel is not bike-friendly. These fury fuelled drivers invariably squeeze past leaving you very little room. I’m not a leg-shaving roadie but several London vehicles have very nearly shaved my legs for me, as they scraped by.

If you want music with your motoring mayhem, cantankeroussquonk has edited his commuting near-misses together with some appropriate tunes.

“You are the traffic cop 2”, illustrates the dangers of the ‘left hook’ by focusing on the cyclist in front. Approaching a roundabout the white van driver exhibits classic bike blindness by swerving into the path of the cyclist then cutting in front of him and turning left at the junction. The cyclist as cantankeroussquonk makes clear in his caption may not have wanted to go left, but staying alive was probably more of a priority than staying on course.

Paul Jones’s (aka: Mailpauljonescouk) film shows a left hook which DID connect and brought the cyclist to a frustrated standstill as the driver who cut him up surges on obliviously.

Jones is another prodigious uploader of commuting footage. He’s even come to the notice of his local ITV station which ran a report featuring Paul and his helmet-cam.

It’s no surprise that most of the two-wheeled dicing with death on view at YouTube features motorists as the villains of the piece. As cyclists, we may plead that we’re constantly being persecuted by boorish drivers who say we pay no ‘road tax’, are uninsured and untraceable because we don’t have registration plates; but there are many idiotic cyclists out there too. Their hair-raising antics are adequately represented on YouTube as well.

EdinburghFixed has spotted his fellow roadies acting like numpties and isn’t ashamed to share the resultant film.



I’ve seen just as many cars jump red lights as bikes – but it’s the cyclists who will sustain the worst injuries if their craziness leads to a collision. Thankfully cars cannot mount the pavement (easily at least), unlike some bad bike riders.



These films have made me think hard about whether or not I want to continue riding in and out to work through busy London traffic every day. Watching these velo-video nasties reminds me of watching Dr Who as a kid and joining the masses of all the country’s other 6 year olds, hiding behind the couch. The only trouble is you can’t hide your face behind a cushion when you’re cycling your bike.

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