Hit-and-run set to spark rise in helmet cams

A cyclist negotiates his way on George Street. Picture: Neil Hanna

A cyclist negotiates his way on George Street. Picture: Neil Hanna

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THE number of cyclists using helmet cameras in the Capital is expected to soar – following an horrific hit-and-run ­incident which has left a woman in ­hospital.

Police are still appealing for witnesses after the 33-year-old was seriously injured after being knocked off her bicycle by a silver/blue hatchback at Liberton earlier this week.

Cycling shops said a number of near misses – capped by this latest horror smash – has resulted in concerned cyclists rushing to snap up the ­evidence-gathering cameras.

Cycling lobby groups say the growing number of people using the cameras is a sad symptom of motorists’ lack of consideration for ­fellow road users.

They believe more needs to be done to change attitudes towards cyclists.

In the meantime, as thousands of people prepare to descend on Holyrood for the Pedal on Parliament lobbying event next Saturday, sales of helmet cameras, which range in price from £50-£200, are expected to rocket. Both Halfords and Evans Cycles have reported a surge in the sale of helmet cameras in the past 18 months, with sales of the market-leading Go Pro model more than doubling since 2012.

Grace Wilding, of cycle firm Evans’ Exchange Place branch, said: “More and more 
people are using them, because they just want that back-up. It does make drivers certainly respond and think before they act aggressively towards cyclists, when they realise they are being filmed. Nobody wants to look like an idiot on camera. But you’re going to have to spend a bit of money if you are going to get something decent.”

And Chris Miele, of the new Cycle Service shop in Newington, said helmet cameras were good from an “evidence point of view”, adding: “When it’s a hit-and-run scenario you would have the evidence. But they are fairly expensive. They are cheaper than they used to be, but you’re talking triple figures for HD quality.”

Evidence can certainly help cyclists take incidents further. One source at a top Edinburgh law firm said: “In any case we always want hard evidence and footage from these cameras provides just that.”

But Kim Harding, co-founder of Pedal on Parliament and chairman of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, said: “There’s a use for them [cameras] but there needs to be a social change to make it socially unacceptable for drivers to behave in that way.”

And Graham Hanratty, who regularly cycles into the city from Prestonpans, said: “It’s a deterrent. If motorists cut you up, if you have got a helmet cam and you stop, you can say to them, ‘you’re on camera’. It does act as a deterrent, and it helps calm the situation down.”

The hit-and-run happened on Thursday morning as the victim reached the traffic lights at the junction with Liberton Drive. The woman, who is too upset to speak to the News, remains in the ERI where she is being treated for injuries to her neck and shoulder. She is expected to take several months to fully recover.

Police action varies, with videos not always resulting in prosecution, and sometimes the opposite, with cyclists charged for swearing, being threatening to motorists and banging on car roofs. A recent study in Australia of cycle footage showed motorists were behind 87 per cent of accidents or near-misses, mainly due to lack of driver awareness.

While a study commissioned by car insurance company Direct Line found drivers fail to see 22 per cent of cyclists on the road in clear view of their vehicle. Using eye-tracking technology it established motorists using satnavs were even less likely to spot a cyclist.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com