Gear Prudence: I’ve had a few close calls lately, which got me thinking about buying a video camera that I can attach to my bike. I know a few people who’ve been in accidents, and without any proof that the driver was at fault, the cops didn’t believe them. If I get hit, I want incontrovertible video evidence. I told my husband about this plan, thinking that he would be supportive—he’s always been worried about my safety—and he had the exact opposite reaction from the one I expected. He said that this just proved biking was too dangerous and that I should stop before “something seriously bad happens.” I was at a loss for words. I want to keep biking, I still want to get the camera, and I want my husband to understand. What am I supposed to do? —Very Indignant, Didn’t Expect Opposition
Dear VIDEO: There’s a lot going on here, but let’s start with the camera part. Many bicyclists elect to mount video cameras—which are now comparatively cheap and compact—to their bicycles or their helmets to record their rides. Some do this to record “epic” rides because maybe they are visually interesting or to keep a digital record of an athletic exploit. If you’re doing this, resist the urge to share too widely—there is very limited interest in 16 minutes of slowly pedaling through Arlington—and be sure not to go full Norma Desmond. Relive a ride in the confines of your memory rather than via YouTube. Elide the bad parts.
The other reason people record their rides is, as you mentioned, as an insurance policy should something awful happen. Video of an incident, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily guarantee a just outcome (or even one that favors you), but it might support a certain narrative of events or disprove another. And that might make the difference between punishment and exoneration, recompense or squat. But keep in mind that recording your ride won’t proactively make you safer. It’s like a helmet—there to try to help should things go bad, but pretty useless until then.
Given his unease, your husband probably isn’t a regular cyclist. His prism into bike safety is what you tell him, and you’ve just told him that you want to record “evidence” should you get into a crash. He just heard, “I’m worried about getting run over,” and hence the freakout. So what now? First, level with him. “Biking is great, but there are risks. I’m careful, but sometimes in life, bad things happen.” Then, explain how the camera is like a helmet (or a seatbelt or car insurance). Then tell him how you’re not going to stop biking (unless you are, but you shouldn’t), but want him to be as comfortable with this as possible. Then see what he thinks. And hopefully this does the trick. —GP