Fear not, I haven't suddenly turned into a potty mouthed cyclist that's going to chase you down the road and nor have I taken to a game of Mad Max in my car. I have however, taken to Twitter recently and seen the endless reams of video footage showing close passes or dangerous manoeuvres from cars and the arguments that tend to ensue in the aftermath of such postings.
I for one think helmet cameras and 'dash cams' are great; ultimately whilst we never want to have a reason to use them, they can provide the hard evidence required to determine who is right or wrong in an incident. It shouldn't have ever got to the point where we feel we have to carry a camera in anticipation of a crash, but they do their job in the right circumstances.
Now, by 'right circumstances' I mean when the footage of the offence is handed to the appropriate authority, i.e. the police, so that they can take the appropriate action for whatever violation has occurred. There is very little to gain from posting this footage on Twitter or Youtube other than to provoke a reaction from either side. Twitter is a brilliant place for getting some 'social justice', but in most cases won't deliver a visit from the police where required but would just serve to enforce the hatred of cyclists if they find the footage online.
Once you post the footage of a close pass or similar online you're provoking an "us vs. them" mentality that rapidly descends into a plethora of anti bike and anti car / taxi driver arguments that really do draw out the worst in both sides. More often than not when you read the threads on one of these videos the comments get quite vicious, quite quickly.
I have one simple rule on helmet camera footage that I use myself. If it's bad enough to warrant the need to show it to anyone, I will share it with the police and let them deal with it. If I wouldn't hand it to the police, I wouldn't put it on the internet. Bearing that in mind, I've never put any footage online because everything has been appropriately dealt with by the rulebook. If however, it was a pretty horrendous incident and the police showed little interest, then I might post it, to put some pressure on.
In the last five years I've had two bikes totalled after collisions on the road with third parties that after some sensible discussion and a review of the appropriate footage admitted liability and bought me a new bike on the insurance. I didn't then feel the need to publish that footage because it was case closed.
If we want to have harmony on the roads, it's not about creating these online conflicts from behind a keyboard, but about education and enforcement. There should be more emphasis on reminding everyone that we are human, that we can share the road and that if we don't, there are legal consequences. If we all put as much effort into lobbying the law enforcement into getting harder on traffic law as we do on fighting on the internet, then chances are the roads would be a happier place.
Just like the bullies from school, if you remember that far back and we unlucky enough to be bullied, people say things to wind up cyclists to get a reaction. If you stop biting, they stop fishing.