About over two years ago, I was so appalled at the everyday challenge of riding my bicycle in LA County, that I decided to make the challenges seen.
I wanted everyone to see just how difficult it is to make use of the bicycle a serious, SAFE commuting option.
I decided I would take photos, even videos of some streets. The busy streets. The streets where I felt like I was half a foot away from being side-swiped by a car. The streets where I felt the pressure of traffic building up behind me, where in the "heat of the moment", drivers could threaten violence not only with their words, but also their 2 ton fast-moving machines.
But to take photos and videos, I usually would have to stop for about 5-10 minutes, take out my flipMinoHD and my 5-year old digital camera, and wait for either bikes to pass by and/or a car or big truck to show just how fast and unsafe it was to ride a bike. A portion of that footage became my little mini-series of why no one fucking bikes in Los Angeles.
But I never felt like this was enough.
If it weren't for school and this little thing called my Thesis project, I'd post more about little things that irked me about biking that made it utterly untenable for an ordinary Angeleno to want to commute. I'd wanted to post about progress on streets in the city and the problem streets and areas. I would like to spend more time writing, but I simply don't have the time and certainly don't make the money to do anything about it.
What I think ordinary people not into biking needed to see more of was the visuals, the audio, the feeling of the difficulty of bike commuting in hopes that perhaps drivers would be more sympathetic towards the plight of the bicyclist.
One day on 1saleaday.com nearing Christmas, I found a camera and bike/helmet mount for 50 dollars.
In that bike/helmet mount, I envisioned all the struggle of bicycle commuting that I could capture that would take too much effort to do justice to in words. It's one thing to be blogging and posting about what happens: that can easily be dismissed as "words", but I think it's another for audiences to see/hear/feel how crappy it can be to commute by bike in and around LA.
I am now armed with a bike mount and camera and youtube account and the possibility of extended footage. I am now able to capture my rides (and most of the unsafe drivers around me). I've decided that I wouldn't edit the clips and leave the footage as is, meaning that perhaps it can be an open source of data for coding and analysis.
So far, the advantages of the camera:
- Feel much safer; drivers at a stoplight seem to take notice that yep I've got a camera
- Footage captures how close cars and other motor vehicles zip by while I'm out there bike and body vulnerable
- I can capture little annoyances such as how vehicles can occupy a bike lane or road debris
- I can capture the juxtapositions of pedestrians with bicyclists and motorists
- No sound, because the camera is encapsulated in a waterproof case. The sound works fine, I just gotta take it out of the case.
- Shaky low resolution (640) camera. Camera can go up to 720.
- I do not get to see what's to the side or behind me, only what's in front
The first video I ever shot was just effed from the beginning because the mount kept moving around and the footage was extra shaky.
I have footage from yesterday morning's ride from PCH in Wilmington to PCH in Long Beach all the way to the Liberal Arts Campus of Long Beach City College in Lakewood.
Here are some key points in the video:
10:05 - Battling with the trucks in West Long Beach on PCH
18:00 - Woman with kiddie trailer and 2 kids makes sharp left turn onto PCH in Long Beach. Had to give her props when I caught up to her
18:41 - I pass the world Famous VIP Records on PCH
20:40 - Pass the Eastern end of Long Beach City College - PCC Campus on Orange Street.
30:14 - Feel a lot of pressure to speed from merging vehicles on Orange Street in Signal Hill/Bixby Knolls area
47:22 - Arrive at Long Beach City College - LAC Campus via bike path on Carson St.