Cyclists increasingly face being passed too close by motorists, even though the Highway Code was recently changed to be explicit that drivers should give 1.5 m when overtaking people on bikes. The police have set up an online portal for cyclists to report drivers who do not drive safely around those riding their bikes. Many cyclists now carry cameras when they ride and report errant drivers, and the police follow through with action up to prosecution for careless driving.
This session with Tim Wall included a demonstration of how to edit a video recording and how to write a report for submission to the police portal. He also covered how to automate the process of form filling so it take less time, and how to write a convincing narrative to be actioned by the police. This provides anyone new to the process the knowledge to submit a report and offers people with experience additional skills and insights.
The webinar attracted considerable and international interest, though some people were unable to attend, and only a small proportion of those who asked for a link joined us. We made a recording for all those who were not in attendance. The recording has been split into a video of the presentation, and audio only of the question and answer session. We've also provided here Tim's crib sheet for making reports.
Comments from the Audience
There was a very active chat session going on during the webinar, with people making their own suggestions. Most of the comments have been edited (to make them readable out of the chat context) and presented below. If one of the comments is yours, and you don't like the way it has been edited, please contact us.
- Tim uses a Drift Ghost X.
- JW uses a Ghost XL Pro, which either goes on handlebars or helmet, and a Cyclic Gen 6 CE camera for the rear, with both recording on a loop.
- DN asked about the price difference between the Drift Ghost XL (£149) and the Drift Ghost XL Pro (£249). JJ replied that the Ghost XL Pro has 4k video (vs 1080p30), uprated battery and better waterproofing. However, JJ went on to say that whilst 4k provides sharper image, this is only relevant if both you and the police are able to make use of the higher resolution.
- TD uses a Cycliq front and rear and says it works really well.
- PB recommends a Cycliq Fly 10 (£300) with 7 hours recording or Chiili Technology head cam for around £40.
- HY uses Techalogic DC-1 (front and rear in one camera, helmet mounted), saying that it's very easy to use, but adds that battery life isn't great and sometimes you can't read the number plate in poor light (especially if it's wet).
- HY asked abou the benefits or otherwise of having a rear facing camera. PB replied that West Mercia police like front and rear videos, West Midlands police are ok with front but would prefer rear as well. JW added that a rear view camera can be particularly helpful for close passes.
Tools and Tips
- IL recommends What 3 Words to report the locations of incidents.
- CM likes to get the Location Plus code from Google Maps (e.g: 735P+G6V Buxton). It can be pasted into google at a later time to pinpoint the location.
- HY commented that the Google Maps measuring tool isn't very helpful in rural areas where there's too much tree cover!
- PX likes to attach a screen grab of his Strava map marked where the pass occurred. It then shows his speed at that point as well as the position.
- CM warns people to be alert when waiting for the video to upload, in case the server checks to see if you've turned into a robot during the upload.
- PB recommends Garmin Virb ("free download and brliiant for editing").
- HY recommends writing your narrative report "offline" (i.e. not directly on the form) and then pasting it in, just in case the upload crashes and you lose your whole report.
- JJ recommends always good getting some part of the bike in the view of the camera.
- SH said that since his camera is on handlebars, you can't see any part of the bike in his videos. He was advised to put a tape measures on the road and video himself passing a parked car at exactly 1.5m. He attaches a video and still from that calibration with his submissions so that they can see that the pass is closer than that.
- HY commented that "it's pretty outrageous that the officers are telling you to include qualifications, what you were wearing etc, that's irrelevant to the danger you were put in".
- CM commented that HGV drivers are also meant to stop before the ASL ("bike box") so they can see the whole of the box.
- HY has never included all of the measuring indicated in the presentation and submits less detailed reports, but still gets some positive results.
- PB commented that 75% of his reports go to West Mercia Police, 80% close passes, and he always gets feedback, with 75% resulting in notices of intention to prosecute (NIP).
- JW reports that roughly 75% of his submissions to Northumbria Police result in a notice of intention to prosecute (NIP).
- KB drew our attention to this table of police response to reports prepared by the Exeter Cycling Campaign. This is part of their own work into making the most effective use of video camera footage obtained by cyclists.
- CM has found that collisions are harder to report than the close passes, as it goes down a totally different route and his force don't seem to be set up to accept footage for collisions. In one incident involving both a close pass and a collision, the offending person just got a letter for the close pass, with the police force concerned stating "we do not investigate no damage or injury collisions".
- CM commented that there seemed to be differences of opinion as to where the 1.5 metres should be measured from (centre line of bike or edge of handlebars).
- PB commented that he has never put his qualifications on his over 200 reports to West Mercia police. He reported always getting feeedback on how good his video submissions are and believes that the better the video the more they can make a better decision. He adds 2 minutes before the incident on both front and rear cameras.
- HY commented that many close passes "don't look dangerous" to those reviewing the footage, because they don't understand what a close pass looks like and what it looks like on different cameras.