There are many reasons why myself and other cyclists upload footage to youtube but what is often not thought about is the damages such videos can do for cycling?
Many of the cyclists that upload videos are doing a vast amount of cycling each year, several thousand miles. A small minority of drivers will cause issues and those are uploaded on to the internet. It really isn’t a fair example of all the good drivers we have interactions with and many of us simply don’t have the time or effort to upload every good interaction we have with another road user.
I would personally say that I have over 1,000 interactions with vehicles per week, be that me passing them or them passing me. And i only will have issues with at worst, 30 of them. That is a really rough figure of 3% of drivers causing an issue. This gives the impression to potential and other cyclists that it is worse than it really is.
I recall my business studies teacher in school telling us how bad press travels 7x faster than good press. And I think the same applies to these videos. The videos of good cycling experiences of good driving is often rather boring in comparison to the bad driving (at least that is the impression i get when i upload videos and look at the stats), the good videos don’t get anywhere near as many views as the bad ones.
Our behaviour in the videos can also have an effect on how the public view cyclists. Many already hold an opinion that we are all ‘lycra louts’ so breaking basic road laws such as red lights will just add to the reasoning behind their misinformed opinion.
Shouting at other road users also gives an impression that we are bad tempted and aggressive road users, when in reality cyclists are often a lovely bunch of people and are always up for a chat. I’m certainly guilty of this my self and I try to behave but often when you get a motorist nearly taking you out (not for dinner), the adrenaline is pumping and sometimes you say things you wouldn’t normally. Unfortunately people view these videos and think all cyclists are like this all the time, when we really aren’t.
Cycling in a position which is incorrect can also be damaging to cycling. Other cyclists may see a video of a cyclist passing a parked vehicle far too closely. And then they might copy this behaviour. Cycling in the door zone is very risky and can lead to death.
As cyclists who upload video we should try and perfect our riding style so that we are always in the correct position. This is very hard and I don’t think anyone would say they are perfect but it helps other cyclists learn.
Cyclists need to show that we have issues on the road and we are often ignored by authorities because we are the smaller vehicle. But it can have a bad side effect of putting people off cycling and making people think that cyclists are the bad one.