Building A Bicycle Dash Cam With Advanced Capabilites

Riding a bicycle is a wonderful and healthy way to get around. However, just like with any other vehicle on the road, it can be useful to have a camera to record what goes on in traffic. [Richard Audette] built just such a rig.

The original setup relies on a Raspberry Pi 3, which takes a photo every 10 seconds using the attached Pi Camera. It then processes these photos using OpenALPR, which is a piece of software for reading licence plates. Licence plates detected while cycling can be stored on the Raspberry Pi for later, something which could be useful in the event of an accident.

However, [Richard] has developed the concept further since then. The revised dashcam adds blind spot detection for added safety, and uses a Luxonis OAK-D camera which provides stereo depth data and has AI acceleration onboard. It’s paired with a laptop carried in a backpack instead of a Raspberry Pi, and can stream video to a smartphone sitting on the handlebars as a sort of rear-view mirror.

Anyone who has commuted on a bicycle will instantly see the value in work like [Richard]’s. Just avoiding one accident from a car coming from behind would be of huge value, and we’re almost surprised we don’t see more bicycle rear view kits in the wild.

Alternatively, if you just want to scan your surroundings as you ride, consider building a landscape scanner instead. Video after the break.

15 thoughts on “Building A Bicycle Dash Cam With Advanced Capabilites

  1. Speaking as someone who’s worked in bike shops for a few years, I’m not sure you could sell a “rear view” kit that ends up mounted on the bars. Because you have to look down and focus on something that’s on your handlebars, you’ve taken your eyes off the road, and at that point you might as well have just turned your head (which will give you better vision anyway). For those who don’t want to turn their head there are helmet mounted mirrors for a few $.
    I like the idea Richard has had, I just don’t think you’d be able to commercialize and sell it.
    There are rear cameras available (the Fly6 springs to mind), however these are designed to be an after-the-fact thing.

    1. Yeah. Varia radar for the win these days. But I had a lot of fun making mine, and that’s what _this_ post is about, really, not commercialising it. The biggest issues I had with Pi Zero camera systems were image stabilisation and dropped frames. Both of those went away when I threw money at it and went GoPro (with external battery packs).

      1. This is why helmet- or glasses-mounted rear view mirrors do so well: no need to turn your head at all, just flick your eyes.
        They work so well you miss having them when you’re walking and keep looking up where they would be every time you hear something behind you.

  2. “…it can be useful to have a camera to record what goes on in traffic.”

    The whole point of a dash-cam is to ‘prove’ that you were not at fault for a vehicle related violation. And the footage is rarely admissable in court.

    How exactly does that apply to a bicycle?

    NOTE: This isn’t even a dash-cam. It is just an incredibly expensive replacement for a $5 rear-view mirror…

    1. > “And the footage is rarely admissable in court.”

      No. Dash-cam evidence is routinely used in civil courts in all American and Canada jurisdictions. Rules of evidence for criminal proceedings vary across the United States and Canada, but are generally admissible. Australia courts have no problem with dash-cam evidence. Whereas EU courts’ rules of evidence depend on the phase of the moon, various planetary alignments, and the un-calibrated velocity of an unladen swallow.

      Ask me how I know.

  3. A head mounted mirror is stable even on a rough road, I can find a lot of faults with handlebar mounted mirrors. The same applies more so with camerae front or bouncing on the rear. Just one on your head can enable you to take a glance with time to grab an image of the incriminating evidence though 180 is a lot of twist I don’t have. As they pass you can get a face shot as well as their tag #. The face shot is more incriminating then tag # alone. We don’t have front tags unfortunately. I’d try a augmented view screen above but can the delay be minimized?

  4. Hi! Richard here. I’m just exploring “bike smart dash cam” ideas at this point – I agree with all of the above: a $5 mirror is superior to this setup in every way.

    But I also think a useful device could be built.

    A big difference with a car vs a bicycle dashcam is that, to the rider, evidence of a collision is too late.
    – I think collecting geographically tagged near misses, as done on sites like , can help progress bicycle/road infrastructure discussions with city planners.
    – In cars, which have had mirrors forever, the IIHS reports that blind spot detection lowers lane change collisions by 14% – so there is probably some value in augmenting information available to a rider. The smart phone used here is probably not the best way to do this.
    – I’d also like to explore “augmenting” the presence of a bicycle to the cars around it. Luxonis / Loud Bicycle are exploring a concept of a “smart” bicycle horn. I think a driver visible display might also be a concept worth exploring (eg: display car speed, proximity to bicycle)

  5. A conventional bike dashcam (forward facing, not sure if it’d be better mounted to directly to the frame or to the handlebars for stability) would be really useful to report all the taxi drivers and vans that use a cycle lane near me as a loading area
    (solid-bordered cycle lane in the UK, which is illegal to even put a wheel in unless you’re an emergency services vehicle or turning across it, no other exceptions)
    (and it’s a contra-flow cycle lane, so to go round someone parked in it you have to basically swerve into oncoming traffic)
    but there doesn’t seem to be a low-cost, weatherproof video camera out there

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