Save Money and Bike Safer with a DIY Smart Phone Bicycle Camera

Cycling is a great benefit in more ways than one. Not only are bicycles more eco-friendly and cost-effective, but they keep you much more active than other forms of transportation. Unfortunately, cycling also puts you at risk for a variety of hazards. In fact, according to the US DoT, an average of 45,000 bicyclists are injured in traffic each year.

One of the best ways to keep yourself safe while cycling is to review bike safety tips & tricks for urban environments. However, even the best cyclists can get caught in an unfortunate collision, in which case you will want to invest in a dash cam. Luckily, you can easily equip your bike with a dash cam using an old smart phone and materials you could very well already have around the house.

Why Dash Cams are Important

Many people are already aware of the importance of dash cams when it comes to driving a car or truck. If a car accident occurs, video footage of the moments before, during, and after the crash can be crucial when determining who is at fault. The same is just as true for bicycle riders, if not more so.

When a cyclist is injured in a crash that is not their fault, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and any bicycle repair or replacement damage. This is only possible if the cyclist can demonstrate that the accident was not their fault. With a dash cam, a cyclist can provide hard evidence of what they saw before a crash occurred, and have a much higher chance of receiving compensation. In this way, dash cams are easily one of the best forms of physical and financial protection that cyclists can possess.

Recycling a Smart Phone vs. Purchasing a Dash Cam

Purchasing a dash camera is, of course, a viable option when looking to increase your cycling safety. However, recycling a smart phone may be in your (and the planet’s) best interests for many reasons:

  • Cost: Official bicycle-mounted dash cams can run anywhere from $60-$300. By recycling an old smart phone, you are saving valuable dollars that you would otherwise lose by leaving your phone in a drawer and buying new equipment.
  • Energy Efficiency: According to Planet Green Recycle, cellphones contain a veritable gold mine of energy that goes untapped if you discard your old smart phone. In fact, just 42 smart phones have the capacity to power a standard US home for a full year. The batteries that come with normal dash cams do not have the potential to last as long as those in some smart phones — while most dash cams last anywhere from 2-4 hours, smart phones can last 4-5 hours or longer, depending on the model. A portable solar charger can even help your phone battery to last longer.

  • Environmental Impact: Electronic waste is becoming an increasingly dangerous issue in the United States and the rest of the world. Only 15% of recyclable phones are properly recycled, with the remaining old phones going to landfills and causing drastic negative environmental effects. These numbers are especially meaningful when you learn that the United States currently houses more cellphones than it does people. So, by up cycling a smart phone, you are making a legitimate difference by keeping harmful materials out of landfills.

Making Your Recycled Phone Dash Cam

While it may sound daunting, making your dash cam is simple:

For the mount:

  • an old smart phone
  • 2 pipe clamps
  • a flat corner brace
  • 2 strips of heavy-duty Velcro 

Step 1: Apply one strip of the Velcro to the back of your old phone (preferably to a strong case attached to the phone) and the other strip to the outer flat side of your corner brace. Attach your phone to the brace, and be sure the fit is secure.

Step 2: Find the center of your bicycle handle bar. Apply two pipe clams to the bar, each evenly spaced from the center (to ensure your dash cam video is well centered). Make sure they are fastened and tightened properly.

Step 3: Attach the corner brace to the pipe clamps, making sure your phone faces outward in a landscape (not portrait/vertical) view. Be sure the brace is securely attached to the clamps.

Step 4: Download a dash cam app (available for iOS and Android) onto your smartphone. Once the app is set-up, all you need to do is start it up before each ride and you’re on your way to safer cycling!

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Comment by Tina King Neuhausel on December 3, 2018 at 1:57pm

How clever! Thanks for this great info Deanna! 

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