Responsibility of Recording – A Point of View on Point of View Cameras

Point of View Cameras’s @JoeBinatena and Jon Collins @JCYouKnow out testing with GoPro Cameras

BikeCo MediaWorks is supported by GoPro Cameras.  We take great pride in our positive partnerships throughout the MTB industry.  One responsibility of a quality partnership is being aware of community concerns.  It has been brought to my attention a growing negative public view regarding the behavior of Point of View camera operators.  I will take this opportunity to present a pair of stories and in fact agree in many ways with the concerns brought to me.  It is on all of us who use shoot action sports to Record Responsibly.

Each of these stories was presented by public officials aware of my position with BikeCo and our tie with GoPro cameras.  These were related by a CHP officer who patrols the Mulholland area and an Orange County employee whose responsibilities include working with the Parks Department.  Each asked to remain anonymous as they are not public relation spokespeople.

While riding road bikes on Mulholland a pair of my friends were involved in a terrible wreck.  The cause was two motorcycle riders who pulled off and made a quick illegal U-Turn in front of the descending group of road riders.  The leading bicycle rider’s rear wheel was clipped by the first motorcycle’s front snapping him his bars over breaking his wrist before sliding off the right side of the road.  The second rider hit the motorcycle mid-tank sending bike and rider looping over the motorcycle into the oncoming left lane before cartwheeling off the road surface.  Had there been oncoming traffic at that instant I assure readers I would have been attending a funeral.  While waiting for medical response it was noticed many street motorcycle riders come down the canyon, make illegal U-turns and head back.  CHP arrived to assist those involved and offered a quick unsolicited assessment.  Motioning at a point of view camera mounted to the offending motorcycle the CHP officer articulated “There’s your problem.  Those damn cameras cause more accidents that you can believe.  They race up and down the canyon with their cameras on and their brains off.”  The officer went on for nearly half an hour about his experiences working weekends in the canyon and the increasing connection between accidents and cameras.  The officer went on to articulate that point of view cameras were a huge red flag to him.

Santiago Oaks in Orange County sets the stage for the second story.  A popular mountain bike, hiking and equestrian trail network Oaks is nestled between populated areas and is a favorite for quick loops after work or between appointments.  Oaks offers trails with varying features and is a fun ride for all experience levels.

Responding to a rescue call for a down mountain bike rider the County Employee was witness to an event that polarized his view of point of view cameras.  The rider was suffering from an apparent broken arm and possible collar bone injury.  The injured rider was in an area which the County was able to access with a truck and offered the downed rider a quick trip to an easy access point to meet Fire/Rescue.  At this point the story takes a quick turn into selfish vanity.

The downed rider identified himself as a LA firefighter and said as such he would not be charged for helicopter airlift.  He would refuse any transport without the helicopter.

At this point the downed rider handed off his point of view camera to a pair of Good Samaritans who stopped to offer assistance with the instruction to “make sure you get the helicopter coming to get me and taking off.”   And in flies the rescue helicopter.  Landing on a narrow ridge with 20mph cross winds exposed the helicopter crew and ground crew to unreasonable risk.  We talked about the costs to taxpayers, the exposure of human risk and potential risk to the environment of the park surroundings.  The County employee wondered how large of a factor the camera played in the downed rider’s insistence on the dramatic.  Apparently the bike, helmet, and camera in question were all left with Park service for a future pickup – hopefully not by taxpayer helicopter I suppose.

The amazing clarity of modern point of view cameras leads people in all walks of life to document experience.  If a picture is worth a thousand words a 1920×1080 HD video can be worth another ten thousand or more.  Being able to enjoy and share your experience in the future is a great opportunity available for the first time to nearly everyone.  As with all new technology there is a period of social adaptation and understanding of appropriate use.  Just as X-Ray machines aren’t utilized to check the fit of children’s shoes any longer our current society needs to balance the pros and cons of point of view camera use.  Documenting your experience shouldn’t involve affecting other’s experience much less putting others at risk.  Nick-named “Canon Courage” the contagious disease of pushing too hard has been around as long as people have filmed action sports.  Don’t allow yourself to take additional risks simply because it’s being recorded.  Point of view camera owners have a responsibility to be aware and safe.

I’m sure given a chance to review the actual or potential risks to others the camera users in both examples would rethink their behaviors.  No one wants to have another’s injury or worse on their conscious – let alone a HD TV – much less a HD TV in a court as evidence.  Ride responsibly with or without your point of view cameras – your experience and those of other trail users will improve.   Pros will tell you that photo or video shoots aren’t at the edge of their skill sets – rather in situations where they are able to cleanly and confidently ride the terrain.  Being in control will always look better than hanging on for dear life.  Familiarize yourself with available editing software to stitch your footage together into a story.  Your viewers will thank you.

Record Responsibly – Hope to see you SAFELY on the trails –



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