Cyclists and Cameras – An Important Layer of Protection

Cyclists and Cameras – An Important Layer of Protection

Written By: Patrick Brown and Sonam Sapra, Student-at-Law

Cyclists are entitled to their fair share of the roadway. Under S. 148(6.1) of the Highway Traffic Act, motorists overtaking cyclists must leave a distance of not less than one metre between themselves and the cyclist. However, motorists often fail to leave cyclists with enough space, which places cyclists in a dangerous position and is a common cause of collisions. In fact, the Canadian Automobile Association and Statistics Canada found that approximately 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year, with most collisions occurring during afternoon rush hour.

To combat the danger that cyclists face on the roadway, more and more cyclists are equipping their bicycles with cameras to catch and record unsafe drivers. While adding cameras to bicycles may be a more recent phenomenon, cars have been equipped with cameras, or “dash cams”, for a while now. As footage recorded by “dash cams” becomes a regular feature in courtrooms, it is clear that cameras for bicycles can be an important and necessary layer of protection for cyclists.

How can cameras affixed to bicycles protect cyclists?  

In personal injury cases, there are two general issues: liability i.e., who is at fault, and damages i.e., what the monetary award to the injured party should be.

In some cases, it can be challenging to prove who is at fault for a collision. A common reason that it can be challenging is that eyewitnesses may be unreliable, or due to an insufficient investigation, cannot be located. In these cases, footage recorded by cameras affixed to bicycles can help establish liability. Since the footage is an exact representation of the collision and the events that led up to the collision, the footage can serve as an impartial and reliable witness. Therefore, the footage can be used to prove that one party was negligent, and thus at fault. For example, footage can be used to prove the following:

  • A motorist opened their door in front of an approaching cyclist
  • A motorist drove into the bicycle lane
  • A motorist cut off the cyclist while making a right turn

Further, a recent study highlighted Canada’s car culture when it found that Canadians generally place blame on cyclists, as opposed to on motorists, for creating dangerous driving conditions. This study demonstrates that it may be an uphill battle for cyclists to establish that a motorist was at fault. Therefore, when it comes to determining liability, affixing a camera to a bicycle is a very important layer of protection for cyclists.

Finally, recorded footage captured by cyclists can also be helpful for police investigations. For example, cyclists may be injured in “hit and runs”. In these cases, eyewitnesses are usually unable to note down helpful information, like a license plate number. Police officers can use the footage to obtain important information that will assist them in identifying the perpetrator and establishing fault.

Will the footage be admissible in court?

In Nemchin[1] the Ontario Court of Appeal identified two factors that should be considered when deciding if video evidence can be admissible in court:

  1. The judge must be satisfied that the video is a fair and accurate depiction. Where only an excerpt of the video is tendered, the judge must be satisfied that it is fair, accurate and representative of the events it purports to depict.
  2. The judge must ensure that the video does not impair trial fairness

While these factors favour admissibility, it is important to ensure that the footage you capture remains a fair and accurate depiction of the collision. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not manipulate or edit the footage and keep all raw footage available for viewing.

How can we help?

At McLeish Orlando, we have over two decades of experience representing clients involved in cycling collisions. If you, or your loved one, have been involved in a cycling collision please call us for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

[1] Nemchin v Green, 2019 ONCA 634

Patrick Brown


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