It’s a common sight these days to see bicyclists with cameras mounted both forward and rear facing, believing they offer some measure of insurance, a silent witness if you will in case of an accident.
Attorney Thomas F. Forsyth, of the Law Offices of Thomas F. Forsyth in Pasadena, California, is a life long cyclist and bicycle attorney. When asked if cameras on bikes are a help or hindrance, Mr. Forsyth replied, “In my practice, I’d have to say that cameras have helped me and my clients more than hurt. As a general rule I think they are a good idea. I don’t mean the following in any demeaning sense, but a lot of times responding police agencies don’t know a lot about bicycle law; the Rules of the Road. Sometimes they get it wrong and write people up for being on the sidewalk in a city where you’re allowed to be on the sidewalk.”
Mr. Forsyth added, “This is the one (type of accident) I see over and over again; a car going the same direction as the cyclist, car passes the cyclist, then makes an abrupt right hand turn, no signal, no anything. Half the time, police write this up as the cyclist trying to make an unsafe pass around the vehicle and fault the cyclist. I know of two cases specifically where the cyclist had a GoPro. Low and behold, no signal, a very sharp abrupt turn right in front the cyclist,” (the camera) “won the day for the cyclist proving liability. Without that, the police report which is technically hearsay, and can’t be used in court against anybody, the opinions and conclusions. The practical matter is very, very persuasive with claims adjusters. So if that police officer says the cyclist is at fault, if he lies, we usually overcome it. The facts help us, but with that Go Pro (the cyclists) won the day. Now I will say this, having a camera on your bike is not a panacea. Some of the time cyclists are not as blameless or non-negligent as they think they are. As a general rule, (cameras) are more helpful than hurtful.”