How Cyclists Can Get Police to Take On-Bike Video Footage Seriously


Over the past several years, more and more riders have been strapping video cameras to their bikes—not to capture rad jumps or beautiful scenery, but for safety reasons. However, the cameras might not be the panacea that many riders believe. On-bike video footage helped authorities catch the alleged driver who hit a cyclist on the Natchez Trace last month, but too often, video evidence from cyclists is ignored by overwhelmed police departments, particularly in cases where there’s no injury or other crime committed.

Still, many attorneys and cycling experts do recommend riding with video cameras. Colorado attorney Megan Hottman rides with a Cycliq Fly 6 rear-facing camera and light on every ride.

“Watching the footage afterward, it’s crazy to see how close some people get,” Hottman says. “It’s nice to know I have footage rolling should I ever need it!”

“Typically it’s the drivers who hit a cyclist from behind that try to get away from the scene because the cyclist is often not in a position to ID the fleeing driver,” Hottman continues. “Also cars that hit cyclists from behind tend to be traveling at a faster speed, hence the increased need to capture backward-looking footage. Forward footage is good, too, but most cyclists don’t have the cash or desire to run two cameras on every ride.” (Ride safe and confidently with Bicycling’s Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.)

Bike Law attorney Lauri Boxer-Macomber is currently involved in a civil case involving on-bike camera footage that shows a driver failing to yield to an injured rider who had right-of-way. Local authorities are also using the video to determine if charges or a citation should be filed against the alleged driver.

“Having the footage available is not only helpful for showing the wrongful act of the driver, but also for showing the pre-crash customs and practices of the bicyclist—(showing) he stopped at red lights and stop signs, took the lane when appropriate, and rode to the right when appropriate,” Boxer-Macomber says.

But just because you have on-bike video footage doesn’t automatically mean that the police will investigate or charges will be filed. Hottman warns that law enforcement is less likely to press forward if the driver of the vehicle can’t be seen, as the vehicle owner can claim that someone else was driving. …

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