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Rear facing camera (or: evidence against aggressive drivers)

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Rear facing camera (or: evidence against aggressive drivers)

Old 10-30-23, 10:29 AM
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Rear facing camera (or: evidence against aggressive drivers)

Hi,

Was out on a glorious ride yesterday morning, leading a couple of friends along one of my regular routes. We were having a fantastic ride: two of us can sustain just under 200w continuous, and the third guy can probably hold 100w more, so we let him set pace - a moderate workout for him, a stretch for us. All was going well, until we get to one set of intersections...

We are riding in the bike lane, when the dedicated bike lane disappears as another road merges in from the left. There are clear green boxes denoting that the right lane was to be shared between cars and bikes. All three of us stay in the right lane (shared bike/car lane), when a black BMW 3-Series comes within about 6" of swiping the guy in front before cutting us off. As we're recovering from the WTF moment, a white Lexus GX comes within about one foot of me, before doing the same thing. At the next red light, the woman (can't call her a lady) in the BMW screams at us to get off the road, and the Lexus driver looks like he wants to run us down, or give me a beatdown. I considered breaking out the cell phone to record their license plates, but decided not to escalate beyond a shouting match.

For those local to the SF Bay Peninsula, this was Alameda de Puglas when it changes to Santa Cruz, headed towards Sand Hill in Palo Alto/Menlo Park.

Anyway. anybody have any experience with seatpost mounted cameras, something like the Cycliq Fly6 or a Techalogic? Or maybe a full fledged action camera like a DJI or GoPro? Looking for something that could record a purposeful close call without escalating the situation. I've seen some of the sample footage on YouTube, and license plates aren't always clear - is there a camera that has a better (or worse) image quality in regards to this? After all, not every close call will have another red light 300ft down the road for the cars to stop at.

Thanks for allowing the venting before the question.
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Old 10-30-23, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
For those local to the SF Bay Peninsula, this was Alameda de Puglas when it changes to Santa Cruz, headed towards Sand Hill in Palo Alto/Menlo Park.
I've experienced aggressive drivers on that section of road, too. Some of the closest near misses I've ever encountered.
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Old 10-30-23, 12:41 PM
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I have had Teentok/Techalogic cameras for a couple years now and they work well. They last about 5 hours if the light is of, and get clear enough shots to read the license plate of almost any vehicle that comes closer to me than it should. Since it has a GoPro style mount you can buy mounts to suit your needs, but the one that comes with the Techalogic works well on my seatpost. I got a steer tube spacer one for the front camera. FWIW I find a front camera to be quite useful for when the jerk with no front plate passes me.
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Old 10-30-23, 12:41 PM
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I use the Garmin Varia RTC715. It's a tail light, radar unit, and video camera all in one. The camera triggers whenever the radar detects a vehicle approaching, and it sends a signal (audio and visual) to your bike computer telling you something is approaching. It does this so well that often times you won't hear or even see the vehicle behind you before the radar does. Once notified, a quick check (head turn or mirror) will let you know if the driver intends to give you room. I added a GoPro facing forward on my handlebars to catch the action as they pass.

I added all this after being struck from behind 4 years ago. I feel much safer now.
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Old 10-30-23, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
I have had Teentok/Techalogic cameras for a couple years now and they work well. They last about 5 hours if the light is of, and get clear enough shots to read the license plate of almost any vehicle that comes closer to me than it should. Since it has a GoPro style mount you can buy mounts to suit your needs, but the one that comes with the Techalogic works well on my seatpost. I got a steer tube spacer one for the front camera. FWIW I find a front camera to be quite useful for when the jerk with no front plate passes me.
I thought front plates were required in CA? Or are you just referring to the outliers?
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Old 10-30-23, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
I use the Garmin Varia RTC715. It's a tail light, radar unit, and video camera all in one. The camera triggers whenever the radar detects a vehicle approaching, and it sends a signal (audio and visual) to your bike computer telling you something is approaching. It does this so well that often times you won't hear or even see the vehicle behind you before the radar does. Once notified, a quick check (head turn or mirror) will let you know if the driver intends to give you room. I added a GoPro facing forward on my handlebars to catch the action as they pass.

I added all this after being struck from behind 4 years ago. I feel much safer now.
What kind of battery life are you getting out of the Garmin? I had originally thought that I would just go with a GoPro style camera, but realized that those manufacturers quote ~1.5hrs of battery life, maybe up to around 2hrs, but many of my rides stretch to 3hrs, and occasionally 4hrs in the saddle. Does the fact that the Garmin isn't recording constantly help maintain a longer battery life, or is that offset by the radar constantly pinging?
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Old 10-30-23, 01:28 PM
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I have an older Fly6 for the rear and found the battery life to be pretty good, but image quality is a bit lacking. The car has to be pretty close for me to get a good read on the plates in the daytime. In dark conditions, I can't see the plates at all.
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Old 10-30-23, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
I thought front plates were required in CA? Or are you just referring to the outliers?
Outliers. Plenty of people ignore that law.
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Old 10-30-23, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Outliers. Plenty of people ignore that law.
Gotcha. reminds me of NYC - I rarely noticed pre-pandemic (and pre-car), but once we got a car in NYC, it was surprising how many people openly flaunted the law - damaged plates (illegible by traffic cams), no plates (free tolls, right?), etc. The city government did a 'crackdown' and took something like 30 of these cars off the street one month... I could easily see 2 or 3 of them anytime I hopped in the car for an hour.
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Old 10-30-23, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
What kind of battery life are you getting out of the Garmin? I had originally thought that I would just go with a GoPro style camera, but realized that those manufacturers quote ~1.5hrs of battery life, maybe up to around 2hrs, but many of my rides stretch to 3hrs, and occasionally 4hrs in the saddle. Does the fact that the Garmin isn't recording constantly help maintain a longer battery life, or is that offset by the radar constantly pinging?
4 hours on the Garmin is fine. On my GoPro, I have to connect it to an external battery pack via USB cable.
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Old 10-30-23, 03:49 PM
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Then you need a jersey that says, "SMILE! You're on Candid Camera."
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Old 10-30-23, 04:07 PM
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My older model Sony action cam front and rear facing cameras only record in 1080p. In daylight getting license plate is usually okay, especially if they are passing within a foot of me, which happens rarely. Night time riding is another matter. It's almost impossible to get the plate. The best you can hope for is to get the make and model of the vehicle.

I've used the footage to get license plates numerous times to make a report to the local police-sponsored road watch program. Don't know if they do anything with the report, but I always note on the report that I do have archival footage if they require it as evidence.

Having cameras on won't reduce the likelihood of being hit, but for me it's about documenting the potential incident should there be one and god-forbid I am not around to give evidence of the incident. Drivers won't know, or even car, if you have an onboard camera.
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Old 10-30-23, 04:17 PM
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GP Lama did reviews of some of the rear-facing cameras a while back. I forget which, but one of them did a poor job because it lacked image stabilization - made it hard to catch the license plate.
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Old 10-30-23, 06:34 PM
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I use a Garmin Varia 715 also (camera, light, radar).

The camera is "so-so" at best, being 1080p with no stabilisation. If somebody comes up close passing you or rear-ending you, it'll capture their plate 99% of the time. At safe overtake distance it'll get plates 80% of the time, in very low light it's close to useless. It's certainly no 4K action cam (and wasn't designed to be). Battery life is 4-5 hours on flashing light mode and always filming. You can set it to film "always-on" or only on vehicle approach.

It was expensive, but I rarely ride without it now, mostly for the additional warning of approaching cars. The visual cues on the Garmin screen are great too, showing approx distance and number of vehicles approaching.

Worth it? Hmmm. I don't know. I really would like a better quality camera for the price.
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Old 10-30-23, 07:00 PM
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I only have a forward facing cam and when I'm using my GPS instead of the smartphone, I turn it off because it messes with the GPS signal. Course, I only use the GPS when out servicing Geocaches so it's usually on. I got harassed and rooster tailed by a couple of punks on dirt bikes last summer and right up the road was a deputy. I quickly showed him the clip on the camera and he went after them like a bat outa (you know where). One got ticket, one got warning.
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Old 10-30-23, 10:03 PM
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On a group ride a couple of years ago - double pace line, a truck buzzes us very close, horn blaring and the passenger giving us the finger as it passed etc. I was on the inside line, so the guy to my left caught the close shave. My Cycliq 6 bought the action. However, in my state, only rear tags, so my rear-facing camera didn't catch the plate. However, the rider beside me had the presence of mind to yell out the tag# after the truck passed him - the camera sound picked it up (it wasn't planned - he was simply yelling out the number to help him remember it). I sent the footage and the tag# to the local sheriff's dept, a deputy went to the guy's house, showed him the film and gave him a warning - best I can hope for, I suppose, but at least law enforcement followed up and got back to me. The driver was an 85-year-old who objected in principle to sharing the road with cyclists. I guess the only consolation is that the old goat will likely be dead soon - old MF-er can yell at us from the clouds

Last edited by 13ollocks; 10-31-23 at 06:19 PM. Reason: changed "on my left" to "on my right" - correction
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Old 10-31-23, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Then you need a jersey that says, "SMILE! You're on Candid Camera."
A couple of friends use these on their commutes. Say it makes a difference. One of them has a camera, the other only has the badge.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1511...a-clip-on-mini
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Old 10-31-23, 09:57 AM
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I ride with a Garmin radar unit but w/o the camera. Just don't want to pay the money for one. FWIW I'd rather ride w/o a helmet than w/o my radar. Fortunately its not a choice I have to make.
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Old 10-31-23, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I ride with a Garmin radar unit but w/o the camera. Just don't want to pay the money for one. FWIW I'd rather ride w/o a helmet than w/o my radar. Fortunately its not a choice I have to make.
Me too. They are excellent.
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Old 10-31-23, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for everyone's opinions. For those of you who ride with radars and swear by them - I understand having more information is good, but realistically, is there much you can do? I generally stay on the right side of the lane, and it's not like I'm particularly able to get out of the way if someone's bearing down on me.

Keep the thoughts and opinions coming, I think I'll wait until a little closer to Thanksgiving before pulling the trigger - maybe someone will have a sale.
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Old 10-31-23, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
Thanks for everyone's opinions. For those of you who ride with radars and swear by them - I understand having more information is good, but realistically, is there much you can do? I generally stay on the right side of the lane, and it's not like I'm particularly able to get out of the way if someone's bearing down on me.

Keep the thoughts and opinions coming, I think I'll wait until a little closer to Thanksgiving before pulling the trigger - maybe someone will have a sale.
To me, the biggest benefit of radar is that I'm no longer surprised. I have mine set to beep alert when I'm riding solo, and silent (visual only via head unit) when I'm in a group.

The other thing is the light goes into a blink pattern when it does detect incoming cars, so the driver will get a visual cue from the radar light. I sometimes use my radar light without a head unit (so no alerting functions for me), but the light pattern will still flash to an upcoming car.

With respect to whether there is anything actionable from the radar alert, for me I can be more towards the center of the road when I know it's clear, and as soon as there's a car behind me, I can veer over just slightly to the right - I think this signals to the driver behind me that I'll trying to be conscientious in sharing the road.

But the opposite can also be true - if I'm on a narrow mountain road, I might signal over to take the lane if there's a car behind me and I don't want them to pass me at that location - I might gesture to the driver to slow, wait while I ride past a blind corner, and then pull towards the side and wave the driver through.

I just think it's extra information that's nice to have - if it's a straight, open road, the radar detects cars a little bit before I can hear them. At worst, I hear the radar alert around the same time I hear the car itself. I still look back out of habit and best practice, but with the radar I almost feel like I don't need to. My radar misses the occasional motorcycle, however.

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Old 10-31-23, 05:38 PM
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Cars around here are generally quiet (mostly EVs and modern ICEs with decent silencers) so I get a lot more warning off the radar. Maybe 400m. And it gives the opportunity to react - sometimes riding solo there’s a chance to dip into a layby and slow, to show a bit of compassion for the poor oppressed driver, which I’d have missed without the early warning. And I get more chances to wave cars through on blind bends I can see round. It definitely makes a difference, shows awareness and you’re not just mindlessly dawdling along. Had notably more thankyou hazard light flashes since I got it.

It also shows an indication of approach speed not just the fact there’s something there.
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Old 10-31-23, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
Thanks for everyone's opinions. For those of you who ride with radars and swear by them - I understand having more information is good, but realistically, is there much you can do? I generally stay on the right side of the lane, and it's not like I'm particularly able to get out of the way if someone's bearing down on me.

Keep the thoughts and opinions coming, I think I'll wait until a little closer to Thanksgiving before pulling the trigger - maybe someone will have a sale.
Prior to getting my Varia, I had also wondered how useful it would be; I even asked everyone here:

Garmin Varia Useful in Suburbia? - Bike Forums

After getting mine, I find it quite useful. The best example to date: I was riding on the marked shoulder of a road without a sidewalk. The road has regular traffic and several cars had passed me. The shoulder is about 5 to 6 feet wide. I approached a woman walking a dog on the shoulder; the dog was to her left. I called out hello well in advance. Just as I was about to pass them on their left, the dog jumped to its left, almost directly in front of my front wheel. There was insufficient time to look over my left shoulder, but I had kept an eye on the Varia app and thus saw that there was enough space in the traffic for me to swerve into the traffic lane around the dog, which saved both the dog and me.

Also, even if you keep looking over your shoulder, the Varia is better at tracking multiple vehicles than you can.

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Old 11-07-23, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
Hi,

Was out on a glorious ride yesterday morning, leading a couple of friends along one of my regular routes. We were having a fantastic ride: two of us can sustain just under 200w continuous, and the third guy can probably hold 100w more, so we let him set pace - a moderate workout for him, a stretch for us. All was going well, until we get to one set of intersections...

We are riding in the bike lane, when the dedicated bike lane disappears as another road merges in from the left. There are clear green boxes denoting that the right lane was to be shared between cars and bikes. All three of us stay in the right lane (shared bike/car lane), when a black BMW 3-Series comes within about 6" of swiping the guy in front before cutting us off. As we're recovering from the WTF moment, a white Lexus GX comes within about one foot of me, before doing the same thing. At the next red light, the woman (can't call her a lady) in the BMW screams at us to get off the road, and the Lexus driver looks like he wants to run us down, or give me a beatdown. I considered breaking out the cell phone to record their license plates, but decided not to escalate beyond a shouting match.

For those local to the SF Bay Peninsula, this was Alameda de Puglas when it changes to Santa Cruz, headed towards Sand Hill in Palo Alto/Menlo Park.

Anyway. anybody have any experience with seatpost mounted cameras, something like the Cycliq Fly6 or a Techalogic? Or maybe a full fledged action camera like a DJI or GoPro? Looking for something that could record a purposeful close call without escalating the situation. I've seen some of the sample footage on YouTube, and license plates aren't always clear - is there a camera that has a better (or worse) image quality in regards to this? After all, not every close call will have another red light 300ft down the road for the cars to stop at.

Thanks for allowing the venting before the question.
I have had a LOT of experience with cameras on bikes. I tend to find the the front camera is actually sufficient in most cases. I have both the Cycliq front and rear lights but I prefer to have the Varia from Garmin in the back. it's a way better light and it helps me deal with traffic from behind too. I do have the Cycliq12 on the front as my front light and for its camera. My experience has been that it is just as easy to see what happens and measure distances from the front and you can see what they are doing as they cut you off, So my recommendation would be for the front light and for a Varia tail light.

About 5 years ago, I got fed up with the drivers and not doing something about it. I live in Minnesota and we had an incident where Jessie Diggins the Olympic Gold Medalist cross country skier was out training with her coach on back roads where I live. Some jerk got into with her, she pulled out her phone and filmed it and then put it on facebook. The thing went viral locally, the sheriff got wind of it, tracked the guy down and prosecuted him for road rage. Jessie is from the area here and is kind of a local hero besides being just a really nice person. The whole valley went crazy and this guy wound up being shunned in the community and (thankfully) moved away. But the important takeaway was that local driver behavior immediately improved.

Subsequent to that I decided to deal with people like that when I had issues. So I got the camera and I would package the video up in a short clip that portrayed the situation. If it is from a commercial vehicle, I then ask to speak to whomever is responsible for safety in management and that I'd like to talk with them before I turn my video over to the sheriff. I usually am in touch right away with the right person and the results are usually swift and beneficial. Especially true for the local school bus company - it's a training issue for them and they deal with it and results are immediately evident on the road.

If it's a private vehicle, I just contact the sheriff. The on duty deputy calls me, I send him the video and they go and figure out the driver and talk with them. They've told me that they sort of decide how to handle it based on the behavior of the driver in both the video and when they talk. If they are jerks like this woman, she's going to get a ticket. If they are ignorant and don't know (which is surprisingly epidemic) then they get an education and a warning.

Overall, seems to be making a difference over the year. Really helps when they understand they are not anonymous on the road.

I think it's important to be proactive and go after people like this. I don't see the value (maybe my heirs would) of having video but I'm dead. So if you do this, make sure you go after all of this bad driving.
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Old 11-09-23, 05:04 PM
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This is on my commute, had 2 bad interactions at that same place, one was a clueless Tesla and another was a road raging truck. There is a grate on the far right that can be potentially hairy when wet, so you tend to want to take the lane but some cars get mad.

Don’t see why you would want a camera though. Atherton PD doesn’t care

edit: my bad interactions were slightly closer to sand hill. This is before the weird red light that you rarely need to follow because of the turning traffic, the light before sand hill? Or is it about near the 3rd light away from sand hill? Kind of surprised 3 cars beefed with you guys there, maybe you took the lane too early.

the bike lane ends around there and people can get confused about what to do. I wouldn’t take lane until after the optional red, it’s just bad form and disrupts the flow. Sucks that the cars are so mean about it though

Last edited by LarrySellerz; 11-09-23 at 05:12 PM.
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