Magicshine MJ-872

December 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

The Magicshine MJ-872 is a 1,600 Lumen bicycle light from the ever-growing company Magicshine. They have revolutionised lights for bicycles, in the past few years I’ve seen a growing number of cyclists using brighter and brighter lights with most of them being from Magicshine. The reason, they offer affordable bright bicycle lighting that allows people to see where they are going!

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As per my previous post about how roadsafe are working for better results. I think the following shows just how they have changed. I had an extremely close pass by the driver of M391UMF and I reported it to road safe in the usual way.

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The War on Britain’s Roads

November 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

The War on Britain’s Roads combines footage captured by cyclists through helmet-mounted cameras, with interviews from cyclists, drivers and those affected by incidents on our roads. Viewers are parachuted into the middle of the battle that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts.

The documentary airs on Wednesday the 5th of December at 9pm on BBC1 but is there really a war on the roads?

War is a strong word, one that suggests a them vs us and that there is daily conflict on the road. There is obviously some concern coming from the cycling community about this. As what better way to make cycling look dangerous than to convey the roads as a war zone and to show countless videos of dangerous driving.

And whilst this may have a negative affect, this has all come around because of the poor driving that some of us have received over the years. If the documentary can get through to people about how vulnerable we are and how much space we require, then surely it must be a good thing.

Those of us that film will be the first ones to admit how safe it is on the roads. Whilst watching my youtube videos may seem like I run in with a lot of lunatics, you have to take into consideration how many miles I travel and under what traffic conditions.
Most of my riding is done in central London during rush hour traffic, I can do anything from 120miles – 300 miles in a week in those conditions and average over 6,000 miles a year. On average I probably pass and get passed by 4,500 vehicles a week, lets say 250,000 vehicles a year. For the past 3 years that would make 18,000 miles covered and 750,000 vehicles passed. I would say that I have had no more than 50 bad interactions with vehicles in that time. That means I’ll have an incident every 15,000 vehicles or 360 miles.
Considering that I spend most of my time cycling in rush hour traffic, where people just want to get home or into the office on time. I don’t think that is too bad.

So is it a war? It could be described as such. I wouldn’t say it was cyclists vs motorists though, more good road users vs bad road users. It’s not just cyclists who are using cameras, motorcyclists, horse riders and motorists use them to record what they experience on the roads.

I’ve had some involvement with the documentary and whilst they are advertising it as a war (hopefully to gain attention), I don’t think that is the way they program is going, more raising awareness of the issues that we experience on the roads.

I’m sure many of you have already seen the website (which has now been pulled, it can be seen here). It’s meant to be a cycling campaign that raises awareness of dangerous cycling and how it can get you into trouble. But instead it calls people ‘Stupid Twats’ and makes up fictional limericks to try to make people see the dangers of certain actions. sign

As I’m writing this, my twitter feed is going off the hook and I’ve just been informed that they have published an apology, which reads as below. apology

Karmarama, the company behind it, certainly made a few mistakes along the way. One which I can relate to is their use of other people’s videos without permission or credit to those who filmed and uploaded them. This of course has led to several of the video owners lodging copyright complaints with youtube. Youtube have a policy of 3 strikes and your out, if they don’t remove the videos in time then the youtube account will be closed down.

Karmarama has tried to suggest that they gave credit to the owners of the footage by this statement on their website.

All videos were taken by lovely riders who give a shit. Unfortunately we never saved their usernames and couldn’t track them back. Sorry lads, keep on uploading these to the net. Together we’ll make a difference.

It was right at the bottom of the website and almost impossible to read.

Karmarama has since taken down the videos but the original playlist “What a stupid TWAT” is still available for viewing.

Compare this to Silly Cyclists, a video series I do which highlights the mistakes that many road users with cameras record and send to me. My approach is not to victim blame or to call people “stupid twats”. Instead I use the clips to help show others how to deal with situations they may find themselves in. An approach which takes a potential negative and turns it into a positive to those who are watching.

I’ve received much praise from many people for the series, many people saying they have learnt a lot from it and now feel safer about cycling on the roads. Even motorists have said they now give cyclists more room as they now understand some of the issues we face.

It’s essentially a similar campaign to what Karmarama has done but the approach is completely different.

I use better as a loose term, as it’s subjective. Those that have regularly reported incidences via roadsafe over the years may have already noticed a change. Many have mentioned that they feel the feedback from them has been poor but hopefully that is about to change.

I first found out about the change when I reported an incident to roadsafe, one which I thought was extremely bad and worthy of at least a talking to the driver if not a prosecution. I got no response from road safe, even after chasing them about it. So I contacted someone I know who is part of the Cycle Task Force and works with Roadsafe and he passed on my concerns to PC Walters.

I met with PC Walters a few days after raising my concerns, this was to take my statement for the case and to talk about how things can go forward. He is an experienced traffic officer with the Police, has worked in the Cycle Task Force and is a cyclist. He informed me that he is looking at videos sent to roadsafe and seeing if they warrant further action by the police. This can included prosecutions and section 59 orders placed on the driver and vehicle.

PC Walters is the only officer working on this at roadsafe and he has only just started but from the feedback I am getting with him, the work he is doing is a really good improvement on a reporting system that many cyclists outside of London want from their own constabulary. I will continue to write about the progress and results that I have with PC Walters.