Emily, you made me laugh and cry. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey with the world (and being realistic). I freaking love my bike, too.
The cat even has its own handlebar. Well, pawbar, that is.
A New York Times article comparing bicyclists’ helmet cameras to black boxes in airplanes has sparked much dialogue in the transportation community. Some predict that as these gadgets – now available for around $200 – get cheaper, they will become a common item on bicyclists’ helmets and handlebars just like lights and other safety devices.
While initially targeted at snowboarders, kayakers, skydivers, downhill mountain bikers and anyone else looking to document their ‘extreme hobbies’, helmet cameras are becoming a trending item among bicycle commuters. These cameras aren’t used to provide a two-wheeled point-of-view of our beautiful city but rather, to capture evidence.
“I bought [my helmet cam] because I like gadgets and I thought I might use it on the ski slopes but it evolved into a safety device,” said David Behroozi, who wears his Contour HD camera five days a week. “They are great to use as a black box for evidence.”
Last year, Behroozi’s video of an collision in South lake Union went viral. In the video, we witness a driver running a red light on Valley Street in South lake Union and hitting a cyclist who’s crossing the street at that moment.
“In an accident scenario, everything happens so quickly. You often don’t have time catch all of the details. Getting a license plate is something I always forget to do and even if I make a mental note of it, I can’t remember it for long. With the camera, I have all of the context; the time, the license plate, the lighting conditions, the surroundings, whether someone was using a cell phone, etc,” explained Behroozi.
Behroozi has been riding with a camera since April of last year and says he rarely reviews his footage unless there was an incident such as a near-miss or someone throwing something at him.
“I personally believe cycling in Seattle is safe and fun and don’t feel insecure riding without a camera, but it’s so easy to use I might as well ride with it,” he said. “I dump the memory every two weeks and charge the battery every 4-5 rides and just let it roll when I ride on the streets.”
Rebecca Roush, Bicycle Program Coordinator for Sound Transit, only recently purchased a camera stating she wanted to start documenting all the “crazy stuff” she encounters while bike commuting from her Greenwood home to downtown every day.
“I think cameras serve as a protection for cyclists. It has certainly done that for me. I have read enough stories of cyclists involved in accidents who didn’t have proof. Cameras protect them in those situations,” said Roush.
During one of her recent early morning commute, Roush captured an incident in which Metro bus driver cuts her off, forcing her out of the bike lane and up a curb onto the sidewalk.
“I used that video to file a complaint,” she said.
And it’s not just the motorized vehicles helmet cam wearers watch out for.
Roush said the camera serves as a tool to see how other bicyclists behave. Additionally, Roush said when people notice the camera, it serves as a reminder for everyone to be more considerate, knowing they are on film.
“They are useful for de-escalation of confrontations, and I ride much safer myself, not only because I know I’m on film, but because from reviewing near-miss footage, I know what to look for and proactively avoid it,” agreed Behroozi.
Roush’s other reason behind wearing a helmet cam is to share a woman bicyclist’s perspective.
“There are fewer women bicycling because they don’t feel safe. I know men who also don’t feel particularly safe but safety seems to be more of a deterrent for women,” she said.
Roush recently launched a blog to share what women experience when they pedal – on the roads or out on the trails.
“Ultimately, I’d like to show that there are women out there riding and get more women bicycling,” she said.
Do you ride with a camera? If so, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve recorded?
Canada’s Share the Road Cycling Coalition is currently running this powerful public service announcement on major television networks in Ontario, Canada.
Hosted by Cascade’s very own Kat Sweet, the event aims to provide a venue for professional and amateur female freeriders to compete in a supportive environment while bringing awareness to the ever-growing women’s freeride movement, and to provide inspiration to women mountain bikers.
Sugar Showdown kicks off on Saturday, July 7, with a sold-out clinic taught by pro riders and renowned instructors for 42 participants from around the country and Canada.
“It’s fun to help other women reach their potential. Often times we don’t realize just how much we can do until we see someone else do it,” said Sweet, who has been mountain biking for 25 years.
On Sunday, a freeride competition for both pro and amateur participants will showcase some of the best women riders from across the country.
“I think [women] see men do these sports and think, ‘I can’t do that’. So to see these women do this, they might think, ‘If she can do it, maybe I can do it, too’,” Sweet said. “It’s inspiring to see women push themselves like that and see the potential of what we can do.”
Filmmaker Mark Brent is teaming up with Sweet to create an online movie titled “If She Can Do It, I Can Do It”, documenting the story of the Sugar Showdown.
“It’s amazing me how many women and men want to see what we are doing,” said Sweet. “We have received overwhelming support for the event, and a lot of it came from men. They want to see their daughters and wives out there.”
For the past decade, Sweet has been instrumental in bringing many new riders to the sport. She has coached kids programs for the last 10 years and women’s programs for six years, and continues to inspire future mountain biking champions as both an independent coach and Cascade’s Youth Program Manager.
“What makes me truly happy in life is getting others to compete,” Sweet said. “Yes, winning is fun but it is more fun to me to see my [students] excel.”
After years spent racing the pro circuit and skiing in California, Sweet decided to move to Seattle in 2002 and give back to the community by investing in young riders. A friend asked her what she really wanted to do with her life and the answer came easily: “to get kids on bikes”.
Sweet started the local Trips for Kids chapter and has been doing kids bike programs ever since.
“It’s about giving kids something positive to focus on,” Sweet said. “I was kind of a social misfit growing up. I didn’t fit in with the normal sports. I think that if I had had mountain biking in my life, things would have been much better for me.”
Sweet soon set out to support another underserved demographic: women.
“Women have been neglected in alternative sports for years,” Sweet explained.
In 2011 she founded Sweetlines, a company that specializes in women-focused training with women instructors. Sweet aims to bring women riders together, push their skills, and empower better riders in a fun, challenging and safe environment.
“Learning to push yourself on the bike translates into life in any arena,” Sweet said. “It taught me to be courageous and to be an entrepreneur and take risks.”
Come out to support Kat and the women of freeride this Sunday, July 8, at Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, Wash, for the Sugar Showdown freeride competition.
You won’t be disappointed. Sweet revealed that the high-speed pro course features berms, rollers, drops, and jumps which can send riders up to 20 feet in the air.
The pro competition kicks off at 11 a.m. and the amateur field will follow at 1 p.m.