Hot off the press: British Cycling bans wearable cameras from races

Updated>> There’s a more up to date story than this, head over to this link to check it out.

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Updated>> There’s a more up to date story than this, head over to this link to check it out.

Nope, sorry, that’s not an early April fools joke.

British Cycling have announced that they will not allow riders to use wearable cameras such as GoPros, DriftHD’s or Contours at their events in 2014. 

That means there will be almost no on-board footage at any events and fans won’t be able to see the action from heroes like Peaty, Gracia, Minnaar, Brycland, Danny Hart or others. Riders that are sponsored by helmet cam companies also won’t be able to represent by wearing their sponsored product. In short, if you turn up at the uplift truck or the start line this weekend with your helmet cam, you’ll be turned back.

We’ve known about this one rumbling around British Cycling for a few months but hoped that it would go away – but no luck – an official statement from British Cycling which we received first today makes it official.

“Strictly no helmet or action cameras permitted, both for practice and racing. As per regulation 3.2.7, all equipment not essential for racing purposes must be removed.”

The rule will be enforced at all British Cycling events – including road, off road, BMX and mountain biking.

It comes, we’re told, from British Cycling’s increasing nervousness about legal action following accidents at their events. Riders (allegedly) are using the footage as evidence to pursue legal claims against BC which is meaning they are being successfully sued.

We’ll be speaking to BC as soon as we can to make sure we get their side of the story.

Steve Peat, and his DriftHD. Photo by Duncan Philpott.

It’s worth pointing out that the ban won’t be absolute. Organisers will be allowed to apply for dispensation for cameras to be used, early in practice at each of their events and to be used by riders of their choosing. This will happen at the British Downhill Series in 2014 and will produce an exclusive “official” BDS helmet cam run, which will be sponsored by a single brand.

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So what’s the impact of this ban? Well … obviously it means significantly less coverage for cycling. The British Downhill Series alone generates a huge amount of ‘on board’ footage that creates huge exposure for the series, for the riders, for their sponsors and for cycling as a whole. Danny Hart’s Fort William helmet cam run is currently at 180,000 views on Pinkbike. When you consider that each round of the BDS only gets about 400 riders that’s a HELL of a lot of people.

We asked one race organiser what they thought: “It’s hugely detrimental for racing”. 

That huge, free coverage is suddenly about to be cut significantly short and a huge opportunity for non-racers to tune in and see downhill up close and personal will be chopped. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that downhill can afford to loose that publicity.

Danny Hart’s helmet cam run from the Fort William BDS – currently at 180,000 views.

Kelly McGarry’s helmet cam run from Rampage – currently at 17 million views. Not a BC event, but look at the potential coverage one helmet camera can create. It’s massive. 

Another thing to consider is the accessibility of cameras like Drifts or GoPros. They allow any rider who can afford a camera to produce high quality, easy to share media. It gives them a way to represent their sponsors and promote their riding. They don’t need to pay a videographer, pay an editor or have a big budget. For the privateer racer, it’s massive. Removing the racer’s ability to film like that feels like a massive handicap and widens the gap between the elite and the everyman racer.

Obviously there’s also the impact on riders that are sponsored by helmet camera brands – they’ll wear the camera to show off their sponsors product. Not any more. Any don’t think you can wear a dummy cam, an empty Gopro case or just not record. It’s all “non essential equipment”.

AW3C4414_1Wideopenmag’s Rich Thomas recording a race run on his helmet camera, Jacob Gibbins photo.

Tell us what you think of British Cycling’s decision on the comments below – and don’t forget to hit SHARE on facebook.

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  1. I don’t see why riders cant sign a bit of paperwork basically stating that they accept full responsibility for there footage and agree to not be able to use there footage for any legal purposes or something! Go pro footage can be so helpful to a race from just being able to memorise the track watching back on a run or looking at lines and stuff to help them progress come Sunday!

    1. That’s REALLY interesting Marty – thanks for posting that.

      What’s your feeling on the impact that it has had on the CX scene and racing? Now it’s had time to sink in can you notice a difference?

  2. Would be far more sensible to shore up the whole legal side of things then just remove the source of evidence that is getting BC sued. By doing the ban they are almost admitting they are open to legal action?

  3. Jamie – it’s probably not put anyone off racing and the footage wouldn’t be THAT exciting own it’s own (although people falling off bikes is usually pretty funny) but would be nice to have the option…

    Was suggested to me that riders would be thinking more about getting the shot, rather than concentrating on their racing which seemed at best utter nonsense.

    Did notice bike mounted cameras being used in road (Tour Series) and track events (Revolution) in Scotland after this came out though so they’re obviously only partially on the dirt… :)

    1. edit:
      “they’re obviously only partially on the dirt… :)”
      should be:
      “they’re obviously only deadly on the dirt… :)”

  4. I could understand if it was a safety issue, but if it is just to stop themselfes getting sued, its discracefull. How about they improve the situation so there isnt a risk of them being sued? Costs them their pocket money, thats why

  5. So if this applies to all non essential race equiptment, does it apply to having a bit of rag in your pocket to clean your goggles at the start line. Mud guards, they arent essential, you could race without one. What about underwear?
    Iv said it for years, the sooner we break away from BC and UCI the better

  6. Oh well, at least I don’t now have to spend money on nice valve caps, a helmet peak, gloves, goggles, a mud guard, a chain or in fact the whole drivetrain for that matter! Who needs all those non-essential niceties anyway? It’s not like they make our sport easier/more enjoyable/look cooler is it?…

  7. Watching onboard footage from people around the world and racing is what got me and a lot of my friends into the sport. I agree with a later comment that what should happen is all racers should fill in a disclaimer document, I race motorcycles and I have to fill one in before I get on track.

  8. Stupid move!! I take it they will also ban ALL photographers from races too as riders might focus more on styling it for a shot and risk crashing?

    In fact, ban spectators too, as we all know that when you see a crowd, you put that little extra effort in.

    Way to go BC.

  9. I’m getting sick of RULES spoiling our sport, it makes me laugh that they ban cameras but let you fly down a mountain/hill with the barest of protection “a helmet” no spine protection etc.
    we should wear what we want and protect as seen fit, a camera is a good learning tool, a good advertiser, and a good way of showing how good the sport is, idiots ruining OUR sport.

  10. I dont like the ruling at all however from the BC point of view they are protecting themselves. Whoever sued them needs to take a long hard look at themselves as well. Its a dangerous sport from the outset and the risks are known to each rider.

  11. The law suite statement is a ruse. Playing the victim card but… oh wait, there will be an exception for cameras issued to the riders of our choosing, the footage of which will be owned by us and a single sponsor will need to pay us for the exclusive rights.

    More likely that BC realised they were missing out on a big cash cow by allowing camera companies to make money using footage from their events.

    1. I’d say you’ve nailed it there, it’s more to do with making money than losing it, we all know that before we enter any race we sign waivers agreeing that we understand the risks involved, just wait for the official BC video of each event brought you by (insert highest paying action cam manufacturer). Who cares about improving the sport or increasing its exposure to the masses when you can bring in more revenue to increase your annual bonus, capatilism ruins the day!

  12. Utter rubbish. Sorry but if British cycling are banning head cams because people are using the videos against them in court cases. Surely that means the track is unsafe, I don’t mean in a nerdy health and safety kind of way either. There is no danger in wearing any sort of helmet camera. It’s BC covering their arses for something they should actively be trying to improve.

    I’m all for tracks with danger and gnarly sections that want to throw you off, but if there’s no catch netting or spear like tree branches facing me then yes. You’re god damn right BC should be sued. I would bet my bottom dollar 90% of these cases are related to dangers at the track side. Essentially British cycling are taking the easy way out that doesn’t change the real danger to riders

  13. I hope it gets overturned. I for one am not going to be able to go to all of the places they are riding all over world. so it’s the extra perspective you lose out on when you watch the sports we love so much.
    I agree with a previous statement made here about the riders signing and agreeing to full responsibility of their own racing with the cameras. Without the cameras a lot of what we know today wouldn’t be here. They have helped all the sports a great deal

  14. This is so bad for the sport as the sport will have nowhere near as much coverage as it had. Racers use headcams to see where they can get faster and improve their lines and now they cant. This rule is the worst thing to happen to mountain biking in a long time and i hope the rule gets revoked. It is such a stupid rule and stupid rules like this are whats going to ruin downhill. Next thing British cycling will be banning the use of rough and technical tracks because they’re scared of getting sued.

  15. ‘Dave you wood’ if a tracks to dangerous for you then it’s simple, don’t race. The worlds gone mad when you can enter a dangerous sport and if you get injured doing it you can sue. Maybe you should take up scrabble if you think your never going to get hurt.

    1. The banning of helmet cameras is pretty dumb, but so is claiming that if you enter a dangerous sport you should accept all risks.

      British Cycling and organisers still have a duty of care for the people competing. Obviously dangerous things shouldn’t be on or near the track. If an organiser leaves an open pit full of barbed wire on the outside of a sharp corner, they should be getting sued for injury to people falling in it.

      A bit of an extreme example, but the point is that negligence causing people to get injured should be punishable.

      Of course, people will go too far and try to sue for injuries incurred by rider error, but this is where the helmetcam evidence comes in. if there’s no video proof their negligence caused the accident, they can’t be held responsible.

  16. Im sure there was something about a helmet can the UCI and shimano are working on that will be sanctioned for racing and that the UCI were rumoured to be lifting the ban.
    Personally in CX races I don’t think anyone’s missing much but in DH its so much faster and dynamic it makes for great footage.
    I don’t see ama supercross banning it!?

  17. It’s all about money.

    If it’s a safety issue, that these “non-essential equipment” is posing threat to riders’ safety, they how come they still allow “selected” riders to wear a cam?

    If it’s about legal issue, all the BC has to do is to make racers sign an agreement that all footage coming from the rider’s personal cam shall not be able to use for legal issues, if they wish to protect their riding and keep the right to sue the BC, they have to wear a cam that is issued by BC.

    So, BC did not do either of the above. Instead, they ban everyone from using cam but their own “selected” riders and keep the footage to themselves.

    This only means one thing: They want to get all the advertisement revenue to themselves on the BC’s own channel.

  18. It’s a ridiculous rule. It’s taking an element of fun away from racing. I hope the camera companies sue BC for unfair advertising opportunities, and maybe the sponsored riders could sue BC for loss of earnings if their camera sponsors don’t pay them to ride at BC events? The ONLY essential equipment needed at a bike race, is a bike – looks like Naked Racing have that sorted. And what’s stopping spectators filming events and using that footage to sue? Bring back fun grassroots Multi-discipline on the same bike racing, like the Malverns, and fuck the spoilsport officials.

  19. This rule is simply about granting exclusive paid for rights to whichever brand wants to pay for it at each events. If that was not the case then they would truly enforce a blanket ban. They’ve sussed that cameras are big business and feel that they aren’t getting their slice. They want to be careful what they wish for, it’s all too easy for sponsored riders just to get together and tell BC to F.R.O, a rider strike at the first event that kills BC’s revenue stream completely would show them what asshats they are being.

    It’s always about the money, the safety suing line is just a sideshow.

  20. 1 I would like to see the data/evidence to back this up
    2 It’s a short sighted move and the ground swell of interest in the sport which has been generated by cam footage will be diminished and that in return will hit revenue in the mid/long term
    3 Was there any kind of consultation
    4 Who made this call, is there transparency
    5 If the camera manufacturers hold the line and do not sponsor through the BC it will kill the potential revenue stream
    6 Show me the competitive rider who agrees with this

  21. Errrr think im missing a trick here?! Can the BCF tell me what part of the radio link bewteen team and road rider doesnt fall into the regulation 3.2.7, all equipment not essential for racing purposes?? Dont need the radio link do they, after all its a race the rider should know when to use legs and put power down not be told!!
    The world gone crazy again!

  22. This ‘rule’has always existed, just implemented with varying levels of interest.

    When you say “It comes, we’re told, from British Cycling’s increasing nervousness about legal action following accidents at their events. Riders (allegedly) are using the footage as evidence to pursue legal claims against BC which is meaning they are being successfully sued.”
    Do you have further info on these cases?

    IF this is true, which I doubt, then the bigger question is whats been done to resolves the issues that caused the incidents or riders making unfair claims. Its an extreme sport FFS – why would anyone claim negligence on behalf of an organiser/sporting body for providing them with the opportunity to race in an extreme sport?

    This all sounds like people are struggling to come to terms with a rule thats always been there and the reasoning behind it.
    I dont really agree with it – just as i didnt agree with the restrictions on bike development/technology on road racing that are being reviewed – many of which existed for safety reasons…drop-out lugs for example or add-on Tri bars and positioning.

    As you say – the Mtb world has known about it for years but done little to change it other than turn an equally blind eye as the commissaires on the day. Nothings changed.

    Go change it!

  23. Simple!!! Don’t turn up for the race! I suppose my VHS Cancorder was a little bulky!
    (For those who are to young it’s a MASSIVE camera that was the size of a small family car)

  24. Typical of an organisation like this, is it safety because I’d like to see the reports where someone was injured by a gopro, more likely there are deals being done in the background we (general public) are not privy too!

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