A cyclist's helmet-cam: the ultimate witness
Video cameras are being used more and more by cyclists as a safety mechanism to record any potential run-ins with other road users.
Cyclists are using helmet-mounted cameras as a source of legal protection in their bid to avoid trouble with motorists on Melbourne's roads.
With clashes and near-misses between cyclists and drivers frequent, small, high-tech cameras that can be bought for as little as $100 are providing insurance for riders.
Authorities hope that extra scrutiny will help improve road behaviour, and police have already used cyclists' footage to settle traffic disputes.
Scott Kerrison is one cyclist who could call on footage, after his helmet-mounted camera captured him being hit by a car that failed to give way in Glen Waverley two weeks ago.
Mr Kerrison estimated he was travelling at 45km/h when hit, and the two fractures in his right arm have derailed his plans to compete in an ironman event in May.
He said he bought his camera primarily for logging mountain-bike rides, but has reported the collision to police and plans to use the vision if the driver is unco-operative in paying costs.
Another rider, Adrian Curnow, said he began using a camera to track his daily commutes to and from his bike store in Port Melbourne about four months ago after experiencing ''a few close calls, a bit of road rage''.
Mr Curnow said he had found surveillance an effective pacifier in run-ins with drivers.
''There was a marked change in attitude whenever I pulled out an iPhone and took a picture of a number plate. It seemed to calm the situation down very quickly,'' he said.
Cyclists' cameras have already settled some road disputes, where previously matters came down to disputed versions of events, such as in Shane Warne's run-in with a rider on St Kilda Road last month.
Victorian police last year used footage to charge and fine a truck driver who got too close when overtaking a cyclist on Nepean Highway, Mordialloc.
Sergeant Helen Poke, of Moorabbin Highway Patrol, said the footage was ''absolutely horrendous'', as it showed the truck coming within a whisker of hitting the cyclist.
''From the video we were able to determine the truck … did swerve in and nearly collected the cyclist. He [the cyclist] forwarded the vision and came in to the police station. I viewed it and played it to the offender and he admitted full liability for his actions and he was appropriately charged,'' she said.
Sergeant Poke said that, while all users were obliged to share the road, helmet cameras were a ''great source of evidence'' and she expected more riders to use them.
In Britain this year at least two drivers have been fined for road-rage incidents based on film captured by riders.
Bicycle Network Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said helmet cameras could end the ''blame game'' in crashes.
''Drivers used to be able to weasel out of their responsibility for causing crashes because the bike rider had no witnesses to make police charges stick,'' he said.
''But now the camera is the witness and drivers are having to face the consequences. Once word gets around that bikes are fitted with cameras, we expect all road users to be much more careful. And that includes the bike riders - their behaviour is recorded too.''
Helmet cameras tested on Melbourne roads two years ago show how prevalent scares are for cyclists. Marilyn Johnson, from the Monash University Accident Research Centre, found in footage compiled by 13 riders over 127 hours there were two crashes, six near-crashes and 46 instances where riders had to take evasive action. Drivers were at fault 87 per cent of the time.
Bicycle stores contacted reported only small sales of cameras, but CBD Cycles manager Ella Brogan expected that to change as awareness grew and near-misses continued.
''The ones we have sold are usually to people who have been in an incident and get one in case they're in another … the most common ones are car doors [opening] - that's perfect for getting on camera,'' she said.