Here's a good reason to put on a helmet: you can record every jerk on the road.
Ever since my late mom fell and hit her head, I have worn a bike helmet. It is silly, because I am more likely going to be squished after having been right-hooked by a cement truck without side-guards. It is silly because I am more likely to slip on the sidewalk and should be wearing a pedestrian helmet when I walk.
But I am in Toronto, where riding in the streets at this time of year is kind of like off-road mountain biking, with giant potholes in the roads and so-called bike lanes that are barely navigable. I feel a bit safer with a helmet on.
Conditions are so awful that I often wish I had a video camera; I am stopping all the time taking photos in the Fedex Lane and the Lunch Stop Lane. A company sent me a handlebar mounted one to try and review, but I could never make it work properly. I have been thinking of getting a GoPro, but they are not cheap and I wondered if I would always remember to ride with it.
And then there is the Cyclevision helmet, which gives you a new reason to put on your helmet: it has front and rear cameras built right in. Each camera can record at full HD 1920x1080P @ 30FPS on a 32GB card, holding up to 4 hours of video. They share one 3200Ma Lithium battery that will run them for 3.5 hours.
You don't have to worry about putting a camera on your helmet or changing cards; there is just a single button above the rear camera that turns them on and off. It loops over the oldest video so that it is really easy; as long as you remember to recharge your helmet then it is hard to screw this up.
Rob Asker developed the Cyclevision after getting seriously bashed up in a hit and run crash in Australia. He notes in the video that he had a camera, and he could have put it on his bike, but he was lazy.
"Although now fully recovered, it was from this incident and the need for increased safety for cyclists, that the idea for the innovative Cyclevision helmet with the capacity to live-stream and record footage of the road was born."
Another neat feature is the way it can stream video from the rear camera to your phone, which you can mount on your handlebars and "gives you eyes in the back of your head." I thought this was pretty silly, but then I have a rear view mirror on my bike. But I do like the idea of having a record of what is going on behind as cars whiz by me at high speed.
The quality of the videos is really good, a wide angle view that gets a bit nauseating at time. On this video there is not much sound but on others, you can hear clearly what is going on.
There are a few things that go against some of the design principles we talk about on TreeHugger. The cameras and electronics are built permanently into the helmet, to reduce weight and complexity, so if you do have a crash and crack the helmet, you can't just move the electronics to a new one, and this is not a cheap device at AUS$ 450 with the Kickstarter discount. On the other hand, the video record or the incident might help you recover some money. Weight and comfort are really important if you are always going to use it instead of leaving it at home, so it might be a small price to pay.
The whole helmet thing is really controversial, and it has become a flashpoint among those like me who think that the constant drumbeat about them scares people off bikes. But I am excited about the idea of wearing one that is more than just a helmet, that records everything I see on a bike, every jerk in the bike lane, every car going through red lights and stop signs. No more just complaining that "drivers don't obey traffic laws" -- I will have it on video.
More at Cyclevision.