Stay on your toes: you're in the bike lane now.

Urban Riding: The Sanctity of the Bike Lane

Urban Riding: The Sanctity of the Bike Lane

by / / 92 posts

There was a time when the world was painted in hues of black and white. Right and Wrong were separated by lines painted in such a thick, heavy paint that even to wander close was to already alter your very nature. The Elders taught us on which side we were to dwell and what evils would descend upon us if we were to transcend into the void. Little was known of what dwelt on the other side; the mind imagines the most horrific beasts in the unknown.

As Cyclists, we dwell in the space between black and white; everything we know is confined within the shades of gray that exist between two absolutes. Nowhere is this more true than when we subject ourselves to the roads to ply our craft at the mercy of motor vehicles, pedestrians, and the department of transportation’s ability to place potholes and manhole covers in the most inopportune locations. A moment’s inattention and our fortunes could shift dramatically.

The bike lane is shrouded in an air of false security. The white line painted a few meters from the edge of the road offers little by way of providing a barrier or any other kind of physical protection. Nevertheless, we wrap ourselves in a blanket of wishful thinking and pedal merrily along our way. The biggest problem with the bike lane is the total disregard that people, traffic, and road crews have for how few options we have outside of our narrow strip of tarmac in the event that the way is blocked, often unaware of the dangers their behaviors impose upon us. These are normally not intended as threats; it is simply a lack of exposure and appreciation of the risks we as Cyclists endure. In the spirit of Rule #3, I will outline some of the greatest risks.

  1. The bike lane is not a turning lane. In many cases – at least in Seattle – the bike lane will be sandwiched between traffic on the left and a parking lane on the right. Traffic will use our humble strip as a turning lane, or use it as a runway for their futile efforts to parallel park.
  2. The bike lane is not a parking lane. If there is no dedicated parking lane, the bike path serves double duty for this purpose in the eyes of the driver. I have had the unpleasant experience of entering a suddenly stopped car through its rear windshield; it is an experience I prefer to limit to a single occasion.
  3. The bicycle lane that was crossed in order to park your car may occasionally contain a person riding a bicycle. Please look behind you prior to opening your door.
  4. Bike lanes are not construction tool collection areas. Cones, shovels, gravel, loitering workers have all sent me diverted into traffic. What’s so attractive about using the bike lane for this purpose? Surely the grassy bit between the sidewalk and the street is equally suitable.
  5. Please repair the tarmac with the same care given to the car lanes. I understand that water mains, power lines, and sewers might need to be accessed by way removing the tarmac in the bike lane. But that lumpy patchwork with the long seam along the edge that runs parallel to the direction of travel is lethal.

Too many Cyclists are being killed doing what they love. We all understand what we risk and accept those rather than not ride our bikes, but I think I speak for all of us when I say I’d rather live to ride again tomorrow. We all have to come together with our fellow motorists to understand how best to work together. But most of all: be careful and diligent, my fellow Cyclists.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus // Technique // The Rides

  1. @VbyV

    @ChrisO

    @VbyV

    @Ron @Ron I have a similar issue with a church near me. When I go South on Sunday morning, I am regularly accosted by a stream of cars speeding down one of my local roads because they’re late for church. They blast by 3 inches from my left drop at double the 35mph speed limit , then right-hook into the parking lot of the church right in front of me. Somehow killing a cyclist is less a sin than parking your ass in a pew 30 sec late.

    Just remind them “Blessed are the wheelmakers; for they will be called children of Merckx”.

    A-Mercx.

    Thought you guys might get a kick out of why I call myself VbyV…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_by_five

    Tom

    I have the same experience with the mega church near me.  However, I don’t know which is worse; the hurrying not to be late before services ones, or the after church ones, on the way out of the parking lot with their souls redeemed and heads in the clouds, not to be bothered by things of this earth, (like my fragile pink self on 17 pounds of aluminum and carbon trying to ride past the exits).

  2. @frank

    @frank

    @Souleur

    This article makes me really admire those who live in urban areas, it really takes a different commitment to ride when so populus dense. Chapeau for you all

    Conversely, living in a rural town of 12k, there are no bike lanes. I have had to educate/enlighten the mayor and council on what bike lanes even are, and still we have none these years later, as they see it a waste of time…I mean who even rides a bike when you can drive a car…right??? So much for city admin and planning

    But, I’ll take it, the trade off from population density, to just a few drunks in ford pickemups, once in a blue moon. The roads are shit, but there is no traffic either, so all in all, a fair trade

    I think in Utopia/Merckx in the sky, there is the marriage of both no traffic and all bike lanes, er…open roads

    So……….Velomitopia is in Southwestern Wisconsin?

    central Mis-ow-ree, which is prob same as Wisc cheese country

    Not sure I would call it Velomitropia, as having been in Washington and the great NW which is where my lost soul really belongs….just saying if you like lone wolf riding with one run in car incident per year such as the flip of a finger, the toss of a beer can or the less than nice hillbilly road rage…its not a bad place as literally 99% are amazed that someone even rides and they go around you like your a freak of nature and are spreading herpes with each stroke.  Then again, if you like pack riding, there are very few here.  I have to go to St Louis or thereabouts to get in with others, and thats 2hr drives each time.

    I just can’t imagine riding like you dudes do in the jam packed city, perhaps I would get use to that tho

  3. @Jamie

    @VbyV

    @ChrisO

    @VbyV

    @Ron @Ron I have a similar issue with a church near me. When I go South on Sunday morning, I am regularly accosted by a stream of cars speeding down one of my local roads because they’re late for church. They blast by 3 inches from my left drop at double the 35mph speed limit , then right-hook into the parking lot of the church right in front of me. Somehow killing a cyclist is less a sin than parking your ass in a pew 30 sec late.

    Just remind them “Blessed are the wheelmakers; for they will be called children of Merckx”.

    A-Mercx.

    Thought you guys might get a kick out of why I call myself VbyV…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_by_five

    Tom

    I have the same experience with the mega church near me. However, I don’t know which is worse; the hurrying not to be late before services ones, or the after church ones, on the way out of the parking lot with their souls redeemed and heads in the clouds, not to be bothered by things of this earth, (like my fragile pink self on 17 pounds of aluminum and carbon trying to ride past the exits).

    funny guys, its amazing, buddy of mine has had the same experience.  he tells me the worst is after church, the redeemed thousands at this mega-cult gets let out, redeemed and are forthwith allowed to go out and get more sinnin done, as they speed by him at double the speed limit, within inches, they have literally cussed him out flipping the bird at him for daring to…well i suppose ride and not have gone?   funny, really…

  4. @Souleur

    @frank

    @frank

    @Souleur

    This article makes me really admire those who live in urban areas, it really takes a different commitment to ride when so populus dense. Chapeau for you all

    Conversely, living in a rural town of 12k, there are no bike lanes. I have had to educate/enlighten the mayor and council on what bike lanes even are, and still we have none these years later, as they see it a waste of time…I mean who even rides a bike when you can drive a car…right??? So much for city admin and planning

    But, I’ll take it, the trade off from population density, to just a few drunks in ford pickemups, once in a blue moon. The roads are shit, but there is no traffic either, so all in all, a fair trade

    I think in Utopia/Merckx in the sky, there is the marriage of both no traffic and all bike lanes, er…open roads

    So……….Velomitopia is in Southwestern Wisconsin?

    central Mis-ow-ree, which is prob same as Wisc cheese country

    Not sure I would call it Velomitropia, as having been in Washington and the great NW which is where my lost soul really belongs….just saying if you like lone wolf riding with one run in car incident per year such as the flip of a finger, the toss of a beer can or the less than nice hillbilly road rage…its not a bad place as literally 99% are amazed that someone even rides and they go around you like your a freak of nature and are spreading herpes with each stroke. Then again, if you like pack riding, there are very few here. I have to go to St Louis or thereabouts to get in with others, and thats 2hr drives each time.

    I just can’t imagine riding like you dudes do in the jam packed city, perhaps I would get use to that tho

    Whoa! Go easy on the Wisconsin/Mizzoura comparisons there! My city (30,000 in SE WI) doesn’t do bike lanes. I think the city expects everyone to ride on the “rail-to-trail” that runs through the city. “If you’re foolish enough to ride on the road, that’s at your risk” seems to be the attitude. Fortunately, there are tons of nice, quiet, almost traffic free roads to ride on and drivers are overwhelmingly polite and give a wide berth. For example, I hit a stop sign in Campbellsport on Saturday at the same time as a lady driver. Who was to go first? I did, mouthed “thank you” with a nod of the head and a smile. She mouthed back, with a smile, “you’re welcome.” Made my day that did. Wouldn’t have happened in Indiana where I used to live . . .

  5. @Ron

    Okay Frank, you’ve done it – I’ve finally seen a s**fie that doesn’t piss me off. And, that one actually makes me smile. Strong work! Thank you!!

    There is a church down the block from me. Not only do perpetually late parents use my block as a cut through zone for drag racing at 7:56 weekday mornings, en route to drop off their little fuckers BUT every Sunday they use the bike lanes on the main street for parking. No joke. A mile in either direction and across a bridge, they fill up the entire bike lane, pushing cyclists into traffic. It’s insane. The police station is also across the road, but I think they let this slide.

    Do unto others, eh…goddamn Catholics. (relax, I was raised and confirmed Catholic, I’ve just come to my senses.)

    Cafeteria Christianity. Oh the hypocrisy of it all. Also raised and confirmed Catholic, and come to some sense…

  6. @wiscot

    Wouldn’t have happened in Indiana where I used to live . . .

    In Indiana, you would likely have been shot for the sport of it.

    (I lived there for a few years growing up, and the physical and psychological scars remain.)

  7. @Jamie

    You should try riding past the exits no-hands while making “devil horns” and screaming “ALL HAIL THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS, MASTER OF EVIL AND SUGGESTOR OF ANAL SEX!”

  8. @PeakInTwoYears

    @wiscot

    Wouldn’t have happened in Indiana where I used to live . . .

    In Indiana, you would likely have been shot for the sport of it.

    (I lived there for a few years growing up, and the physical and psychological scars remain.)

    I know, but it’s hard to steer, drink beer AND shoot a rifle at the same time. Gun racks are standard base-model equipment in IN pick-ups.

    Where did you live in IN? I was in Terre Haute and Lafayette. Could have been worse I suppose . . . I could have been in Muncie or Rensselaer.

  9. Frank – Yeah, I do wonder if other states will pick up the new signage. Here is a report on it that is kind of interesting, if you’d like to read more.

    http://www.bikede.org/2014/04/07/why-share-the-road-is-gone/

    I really have shifted my mindset of late on how I ride. Like I wrote, I used to ride and think, “Oh, I’ll be nice and kind and move as far right as possible for this driver, even if there is the anti-shoulder here.” That is what a pal and I termed roads where the white line edges up to a sharp, harsh drop off of the pavement. “Drivers will love me for moving over.” Yeah, maybe some did, but I also got buzzed a lot and nearly run off into ditches and such. Then I’d come back from what should have been fun all fucking pissed off at the world.

    Now I take the lane or ride far enough into it that drivers MUST cross the center yellow to pass. If there is a nice shoulder, I’ll ride it. If not, I’m going to give myself enough room. Instead of riding in this “courteous mindset” I’m now riding in “I have no steel cage around me, I’ll ride where I feel safe riding.” I’m still not trying to be a dick, but I am simply making myself less likely to be smashed.

    When riding like this I often peek to watch behind me and I also peek when I now a car is there. Kinda telling them, “Yes, I know you are there, I’m going as fast as I can, there is no shoulder, I’ll move over when there is room.” When out in the country I always wave drivers through when it is safe.

    Seems like this marking of territory is really working. Sure, I still get the wild pass now and again, but instead of a stream of close passes, I get one or two nuts a ride, and the rest of the people backing off a lot more. I guess it is kind of asserting my right to be there and showing that I am in fact part of traffic. Before I really tried to be too courteous, I think. Now I ride thinking, “If you want to pass me on a blind curve, go ahead, but I am actually going the posted speed limit and I’m not moving over.”

    I feel a lot better and safer on rides of late. Kind of like being the padron of the autopeloton.

  10. My father was not raised Catholic, but goes to mass with my Catholic mother. He finds it funny that he has to shake hands with a bunch of folks…who will see him in town and ignore him or will cut him off in the parking lot immediately after mass. Ha.

    Also, I was laughing during my June 17th V:4V morning ride. Here I am riding with the Eye of Sauron on the front of my bike…and driver after driver thinks it’s a good idea to ride without their headlights on. What the fuck? Are you trying to be incognito? You think they’d see my shockingly bright light and think, “Oh fuck, maybe I should turn on my lights!”

    What really made me shake my head was that I saw two sheriffs and one city cop…without their lights on. Fack.

  11. I don’t live in NJ anymore but the comments section as usual sums up the idiocy and ignorance of the masses…

    http://newjersey.news12.com/news/nj-assembly-passes-bill-requiring-4-foot-buffer-between-drivers-cyclists-1.8471920

  12. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Jamie

    You should try riding past the exits no-hands while making “devil horns” and screaming “ALL HAIL THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS, MASTER OF EVIL AND SUGGESTOR OF ANAL SEX!”

    Great, now the whole office knows I’m surfing the web due to my snickering. Could do that past the driveway of our church, but we’re Lutherans so we’d probably laugh and buy you a beer.

    Note to self: If anyone ever rides past the parking lot doing this, I’ll know a fellow Velominatus.

  13. @Ron

    Frank – Yeah, I do wonder if other states will pick up the new signage. Here is a report on it that is kind of interesting, if you’d like to read more.

    http://www.bikede.org/2014/04/07/why-share-the-road-is-gone/

    I really have shifted my mindset of late on how I ride. Like I wrote, I used to ride and think, “Oh, I’ll be nice and kind and move as far right as possible for this driver, even if there is the anti-shoulder here.” That is what a pal and I termed roads where the white line edges up to a sharp, harsh drop off of the pavement. “Drivers will love me for moving over.” Yeah, maybe some did, but I also got buzzed a lot and nearly run off into ditches and such. Then I’d come back from what should have been fun all fucking pissed off at the world.

    Now I take the lane or ride far enough into it that drivers MUST cross the center yellow to pass. If there is a nice shoulder, I’ll ride it. If not, I’m going to give myself enough room. Instead of riding in this “courteous mindset” I’m now riding in “I have no steel cage around me, I’ll ride where I feel safe riding.” I’m still not trying to be a dick, but I am simply making myself less likely to be smashed.

    When riding like this I often peek to watch behind me and I also peek when I now a car is there. Kinda telling them, “Yes, I know you are there, I’m going as fast as I can, there is no shoulder, I’ll move over when there is room.” When out in the country I always wave drivers through when it is safe.

    Seems like this marking of territory is really working. Sure, I still get the wild pass now and again, but instead of a stream of close passes, I get one or two nuts a ride, and the rest of the people backing off a lot more. I guess it is kind of asserting my right to be there and showing that I am in fact part of traffic. Before I really tried to be too courteous, I think. Now I ride thinking, “If you want to pass me on a blind curve, go ahead, but I am actually going the posted speed limit and I’m not moving over.”

    I feel a lot better and safer on rides of late. Kind of like being the padron of the autopeloton.

    I’m with you on this one. I ride to work as often as I can, and my route has few bike lanes or wide shoulders. I have learned to be much more defensively aggressive for my own personal safety. Mrs. KW misunderstands this as just plain aggressive, and is convinced that I’m going to get hit. I am still trying to convince her that the way that I ride is a) perfectly legal, and b) designed specifically to reduce the chances of me getting hit by a car.

    Just have to pass along this incident from my commute earlier this week. There is a section where some road construction is going on (it is summer in WI after all), and two lanes reduce to one (right lane ends) for maybe 100 meters. I looked, and there was a gap to the next car, so I signaled and moved over. I also kicked up the pace to get through the zone quicker. For this bit of courteous and safe riding, I was greeted with a honk, and not a nice one. Once past the construction, the right lane opens back up and this snooty bitch flies past me into the turn lane for the freeway, laying on the horn the whole time. I wished that I could have come up beside her and apologized for going 35kph, on a bike, uphill,  in a construction zone, and costing her 10 seconds of her precious life.

    Seriously, if you’re in that big a hurry, leave sooner. Le facque?

  14. @frank A moment’s inattention and our fortunes could shift dramatically.

    Man, how true.  Especially in the stop and go out urban riding. There is no “relaxing ” when riding in much of Philly.  

    @VirenqueForever

    Bike lanes best avoided whenever possible.

    I like this much better…

    I have read elsewhere that this is true and safest idea.

    @Weldertron

    @Teocalli

    The internet is loaded with great examples………………..

    Ultimate cyclocross training route!

    I don’t even understand.

  15. @VirenqueForever

    I don’t live in NJ anymore but the comments section as usual sums up the idiocy and ignorance of the masses…

    http://newjersey.news12.com/news/nj-assembly-passes-bill-requiring-4-foot-buffer-between-drivers-cyclists-1.8471920

    I think people who post comments on websites are usually the lowest of people…

  16. @minion

    @frank

    @Fausto Crapiz

    Hate being obvious, but will the rider in the photo get both hands on the bars and put the frigging phone away?

    Hey, someone’s gotta risk life and limb for the sake of making a point. And don’t worry, I was economizing my activities by also taking a few selfies while I was at it.

    Don’t feel bad that despite spending years on a bike you’ve still got the physique of a 12 year old girl. You’ll get there one day.

    Are you kidding? That’s the biggest compliment I’ve been paid this month.

    @Triathlete

    Do you have a stylist to get everything colour coded just so , I can never seem to achieve this.

    No, I just use my OCD to get it done.

  17. @wiscot

    For the sins of my father, we lived in a friendly little community called Dyer, basically a suburb of Hammond if that tells you anything.

  18. I think part of the problem is that people think that all people who ride bikes are the same, and that all modes of cycle travel are the same.  A child on a tricycle, or a an old lady on a sit up and beg bike are not the same as a road cyclist.  It is called a road bike for a reason…er…it may be something to do with riding on roads I suspect.  The onus has to be placed firmly on education of drivers.  They should be made as part of their driving test to ride a cycle in heavy traffic…this would instil the right attitude early on.  I always avoid cycle paths, like dual carriageway “hard shoulders” (not sure what you call them in Merica) they are usually full of crap, detritus, shards of glass and litter.  Use only in the event that you are in the mood for a puncture and fancy some road side rest time to recover from that Diaphramatic Breathing!

  19. @KW

    Seriously, if you’re in that big a hurry, leave sooner. Le facque?

    YEP! This is exactly how I feel. Years ago now I had a very aggressive driver try to run me into parked cars on my commute. He then got stuck in long line of traffic. His windows were down.

    I rolled up and said that exact thing. “It’s not my fucking fault you are late. Leave earlier you cunt. I’m commuting to work, just like you.” I continued on my way, leaving him to sit in traffic.

    Yep, gotta love the angry honks and zooming past when you cost them a few seconds. I do laugh to myself and wonder why more people DON’T think/say…”Holy fack, that guy is going 40km on a bike, with a backpack, up a hill, at 7:15 in the morning. I barely was able to work the toaster oven.” My dream is to take that driver who did that to you, chain them to a chair, set them on fire…No, I’m kidding. Chain them to a chair and give them a long lecture on why cyclists belong, why they are wrong, and why they need to change their fucking behavior. I don’t want to shoot them, I don’t want to torture them, I just want to have a nice, long, one-sided talk with them.

    But, I’m trying to just roll with it at this point. I think most drivers just simply cannot see around ME BIG, you small, YOU MOVE! It is sad, but that is how it is, I think. Still, on the roads where you have to put up with numerous close calls and multiple jerks, it is hard to just smile and be happy you are on a bike.

    Good on ya though, KW. Keep up the commuting, keep up the riding.

  20. I’m also thankful. I really started riding a bike for fun, exercise, leisure, commuting and to get out and see the world from a saddle when I was living in Washington, DC. Then I lived back in upstate NY where I grew up. Now I’m in central NC. All have had their pros/cons to cycling but…none of them have been horrible or that dangerous.

    Now I simply seek out the lowest traffic routes and time my rides to be low volume/low aggression times. Can’t ride Friday morning (tomorrow) so I’m going to ride late in the evening, after the Cubicle Crazies have fled work and are safely positioned at the bar and before the leave the bar to steer home drunkenly. Perfect! And gives me something to look forward to.

    I know my cycling situation/infrastructure could be much, much worse. Now I just have to land at job at the uni. down the block so I can bike commute 5 minutes and get paid. The KT ’15 ain’t gonna pay for itself!

  21. @wiscot

    @Souleur

    @frank

    @frank

    @Souleur

    This article makes me really admire those who live in urban areas, it really takes a different commitment to ride when so populus dense. Chapeau for you all

    Conversely, living in a rural town of 12k, there are no bike lanes. I have had to educate/enlighten the mayor and council on what bike lanes even are, and still we have none these years later, as they see it a waste of time…I mean who even rides a bike when you can drive a car…right??? So much for city admin and planning

    But, I’ll take it, the trade off from population density, to just a few drunks in ford pickemups, once in a blue moon. The roads are shit, but there is no traffic either, so all in all, a fair trade

    I think in Utopia/Merckx in the sky, there is the marriage of both no traffic and all bike lanes, er…open roads

    So……….Velomitopia is in Southwestern Wisconsin?

    central Mis-ow-ree, which is prob same as Wisc cheese country

    Not sure I would call it Velomitropia, as having been in Washington and the great NW which is where my lost soul really belongs….just saying if you like lone wolf riding with one run in car incident per year such as the flip of a finger, the toss of a beer can or the less than nice hillbilly road rage…its not a bad place as literally 99% are amazed that someone even rides and they go around you like your a freak of nature and are spreading herpes with each stroke. Then again, if you like pack riding, there are very few here. I have to go to St Louis or thereabouts to get in with others, and thats 2hr drives each time.

    I just can’t imagine riding like you dudes do in the jam packed city, perhaps I would get use to that tho

    Whoa! Go easy on the Wisconsin/Mizzoura comparisons there! My city (30,000 in SE WI) doesn’t do bike lanes. I think the city expects everyone to ride on the “rail-to-trail” that runs through the city. “If you’re foolish enough to ride on the road, that’s at your risk” seems to be the attitude. Fortunately, there are tons of nice, quiet, almost traffic free roads to ride on and drivers are overwhelmingly polite and give a wide berth. For example, I hit a stop sign in Campbellsport on Saturday at the same time as a lady driver. Who was to go first? I did, mouthed “thank you” with a nod of the head and a smile. She mouthed back, with a smile, “you’re welcome.” Made my day that did. Wouldn’t have happened in Indiana where I used to live . . .

    now now, nothing intended there but to clarify, afterall I didn’t want to put you all in the same cat as ‘we-uns’. yet, well, we are sorta neighbors living in fly over country here, and sounds like cut from the same cloth in city admin’s

    people…well, maybe you got me beat on ‘nice’ ones there.  my wife and I love that area and all.  nonetheless, good for you and the people there, I have been meaning to run to Madison and make a weekend of it riding and seeing waterford

  22. @therealpeel

    @VirenqueForever

    I don’t live in NJ anymore but the comments section as usual sums up the idiocy and ignorance of the masses…

    http://newjersey.news12.com/news/nj-assembly-passes-bill-requiring-4-foot-buffer-between-drivers-cyclists-1.8471920

    I think people who post comments on websites are usually the lowest of people…

    Agreed – challenge is that they also drive.

  23. @Ron “cyclists belong.” Spot on. That’s the basis for my opposition to “bike paths,” or more accurately, Multi Use Paths. They reinforce motorists’ perspective we don’t belong on the roads. At least in this part of ‘Murica, we have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. When I point that out to them and they rant about cyclist ignoring traffic laws, I counter with motorists routinely ignoring speed limits, blowing through red lights (but it just changed…!), and look at the police logs in the paper pretty much any day. But that’s different, it doesn’t waste 17 seconds of their lives. To get to the bar, get Johnny to practice, or watch TV.

  24. Those bike lanes in the op annoy me because of all the crap that builds up in them, glass, flint, trees etc.

    I live in a souless concrete ‘new’ town, built to alleviate the slums of London after ww2. It has purpose built cycle paths. Unfortunately only a small percentage of the towns population use them, as the town was also too well designed for cars. Traffic flows relatively well due to not having many traffic lights, and more roundabouts, as the article below explains. Also they have not been maintained properly since built, so not that pleasant to ride on.

    http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/stevenage/

  25. Lincoln bike lane

    My favourite… Lincoln UK. Another local authority hell bent on ruining roads for cyclists one lorry load of stone-chips and tar at a time.

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