Shop Closed until Friday, July 24, 2015

The Flying Pigeon LA bike shop will be closed this coming week and will re-open on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 10 a.m.

You can follow our escapades on Twitter and Instagram by following @flyingpigeonla on either platform.

Me and my sidekicks are heading to Washtington, DC to ride Bromptons, play, cart wheel on as many lawns as the Secret Service will let us, visit an Arlington bike co-op, stop in at The Daily Rider, and take pictures of Capital Bike Share.

Make sure to put Gil Cedillo on blast while we’re away! Don’t let that hack get away with anything while we’re away! He’s only in it for the pension. Chale con Cedillo!

Any questions? Email them to info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Flying Pigeon LA inventory on July 17, 2015

A suuuuper long video of what is in stock at the Flying Pigeon bike shop right now, on Friday, July 17, 2015.

From a Babboe cargo tricycle to the Yuba Boda Boda, Yepp seats, and Micargi kiddie bikes we have family cycling needs covered. We also have a nice selection of Nutcase helmets for the whole family.

Brompton biycles are in the front of the shop next to the Brooks saddles and a 16-speed road bike.

A bunch of other stuff in the shop as well. This is a long video (12 minutes!) but hopefully this will answer the eternal question: “Whatcha got?”

Any questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Room for All


The rush-hour bus-and-bike lanes on Wilshire work quite well, after all. I rode the eastbound on my way home from a medical appointment yesterday, and it was clear sailing along a normally turgid street. Most (but by no means all) of the cars stayed in their designated lanes, which accommodated them handily despite road construction that roughened things up a bit. The buses rolled by with priority, as they should—Metro’s buses move 25% more people along the Wilshire corridor at rush hour than all the private cars put together, helping clear the air and the roads both—and my own pedal down the lane was far more peaceful than it usually is in the barroom brawl that the Miracle Mile resembles when it’s the usual free-for-all. Traffic was more orderly, and everyone kept moving at a reasonable pace, instead of jackrabbiting from jam to jam.

Of course, there were scofflaw drivers—I’d guess about one out of twenty-five. But most of the motorists behaved, which was surprising.

However, during this morning‘s rush hour, when I was out snapping pictures of the scene, I saw a lot more delinquency among the steering-wheel set. What I saw very little of either time was police presence. A black-and-white motorcycle or two would be very nice to help ensure rush-hour civility.

Bicyclists still aren’t quite used to the idea, though bus/bike lanes have proven safe in Germany, in congested London, and in our own downtown. Still, I logged a number of them, but (because in my laziness I was depending on a phone camera, which just doesn’t work for really fluid situations), the relaxed young man in the snap above is the only one I actually managed to pixelize.

So I say that, if you’re having to roll along Wilshire anywhere between Beverly Hills and downtown at rush hour, try the bus lanes. It’s something Metro’s gotten right, and something bold at that. A rare thing for Los Angeles!

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Glendale-Hyperion Bridge: have a lane; in fact, take two!

The Vision Hyperion coalition filed suit yesterday against the City of Los Angeles over its recent city council decision to retrofit the Glendale-Hyperion bridge complex in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. The city plans to retrofit the bridge without including two handicap accessible sidewalks and two safe bike lanes. The council went forward with a plan dubbed “Option 1″ which would seismically retrofit several interconnected bridges crossing over the Los Angeles River and the Glendale Freeway. Option 1, however, did not included a pair of handicap accessible sidewalks nor did it include a pair of safe bike lanes (Option 1 does include bike lanes, but one of them is a death trap). These pedestrian and bicycle amenities, along with all the seismic work, were part of “Option 3″ – an option to remove a single car lane from the existing four lanes on the Hyperion Avenue portion of the bridge complex in order to make space for two sidewalks and two bike lanes. Option 3 was created through a robust community outreach effort begun in 2013; an effort which created the Vision Hyperion coalition. The Vision Hyperion group has gathered over 1,200 local stakeholder signatures, and dozens of letters of support from local businesses.

Much of the controversy over removing a single car lane from Hyperion Avenue has revolved around the assumption that taking a single car lane away on this bridge, in exchange for sidewalks and bike lanes, will bring traffic to a standstill.

How closely does this assumption hew to the facts? What is this “controversy” really about – is it a concern over traffic delays and congestion; or is it merely an emotional concern, by motorists, that their priorities must always be the most important consideration in designing the streets? Are we dealing with a windshield-perspective temper tantrum or a case of bike-hippies trying to run amok?

Let’s find out.

Removing a lane from the bridge? Chaos! How about removing TWO lanes from the bridge?! No matter the final outcome, during construction the Hyperion bridge will be narrowed to only one lane of travel in each direction. A four lane street will become a two lane street for 11 months.

What will the impact on traffic be?

NOTHING.

This isn’t even about car delay. This is really all about the appearance of not keeping motorists foremost in our street designs. That is it. Because narrowing this bridge for cars will not impact average travel times for cars.

DO I HAVE PROOF?

Yes! In fact, I do. Well, we all do, really. It is on pages 2-31 to 2-33 of the Glendale-Hyperion IS-EA document prepared by the city and their consultants for Option 1.

It goes like this:

The city hired an engineering firm to do a traffic count on Hyperion Avenue. Hyperion at peak hours (6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for morning peak hours, and 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for evening peak hours) has 1,295 cars heading South and 805 cars heading North. At evening peak hours Hyperion has 1,070 cars heading South and 1,325 heading North.

Table 2.4-2 from page 2-33 of the Glendale-Hyperion IS/EA.

Table 2.4-2 from page 2-33 of the Glendale-Hyperion IS/EA.

From the IS-EA: “With these peak-hour traffic volumes and the standard traffic requirements, one lane in each direction would be able to adequately accommodate this traffic flow. [emphasis added]

The report goes on:

“Construction site traffic would be regulated at 25 miles per hour. At this speed, the capacity of one uninterrupted lane could be as high as 1,500 vehicles per hour with an average gap of 65 feet between vehicles. This would provide operating conditions of LOS D or better.

“Actively promoted Transportation Management Program elements would be able to reduce peak hour vehicular traffic by at least 5%; therefore reducing the demand to about 1,260 vehicles per hour in the peak direction.”

So, what, exactly is all this bitching and whining about from the pro-Option 1 side?!

The whole argument that “bike lanes and sidewalks can/will/might cause traffic” is baloney.

This is about the sense of entitlement that motorists want to feel. They want to know that their self image as someone worth every possible consideration by street designers is more important than the lives and fortunes of those not in cars. There is no factual basis for the statement “removing a single lane from Hyperion Avenue will cause traffic delays”. The car centric engineers at the LADOT and Bureau of Engineering showed through direct observation and modelling that you can remove TWO lanes and still not impact vehicle throughput.

Of course, the time for public rhetoric is mostly passed on this issue. The papers have been filed in court. Still, this is a salient point that belongs at the forefront of the discussion about the Glendale-Hyperion project. Take away one lane? Nah, you can take two! It won’t hurt travel times and we’ll get a bridge that works for everyone.

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And Then There’s Maintenance….


Yes, even half-baked efforts such as sharrows or the city’s numerous Door Zone Bike Lanes (known widely as DZBLs), all need to be kept up. The photo shows one such lane on York Boulevard in Highland Park.

This lane was installed as part of a road diet, a retuning of a street to reduce speeding. Bike lanes are seen as an essential part of such projects; they provide visual narrowing of the lane space, which slows drivers down without the need for signs and cops; they add capacity by encouraging street users to switch from cars to bikes for their local travel; and they improve safety for pedestrians by reducing the distances one must walk through motor traffic lanes to cross. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration touts road diets as a “proven safety countermeasure,” saying that “The resulting benefits include a crash reduction of 19 to 47 percent, reduced vehicle speed differential, improved mobility and access by all road users, and integration of the roadway into surrounding uses that results in an enhanced quality of life. A key feature of a Road Diet is that it allows reclaimed space to be allocated for other uses, such as turn lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, parking or landscaping.”

Road diets often even shorten travel times for drivers, believe it or not, by moving left turners out of the way and preventing drivers from hurrying themselves into jams under the mistaken belief that driving hard gets them through busy commercial areas faster. There have been hundreds of studies now proving that road diets reduce crashes, boost biking, enhance street life, and support local merchants far better than untrammeled four-lane highways, cutting through neighborhoods, can ever hope to do.

But if you let the paint fade away, none of that happens.

Los Angeles, when will you grow up? You can’t just throw down a stripe and walk away. That weary dribble at the top of the photo is all that’s left of the outer boundary mark of the bike lane. The visual narrowing no longer works; cyclists, walkers, and drivers are no longer safe; and even while I was pulled over to snap the picture, I saw motorists drifting over the almost-vanished line and into the bike lane.

Pant it afresh, LADOT! That is your mandate: keeping the streets safe and effective. Likewise the lost striping on the Venice Boulevard bike lanes, the sharrows on Fourth Street, and the deterioration of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other facilities in our city. This is not major reconstruction work; this is the same cheap paint jobs you did before because they were cheap. Well, they’re still cheap, so do ’em again!

Readers, post comments listing your own local faded bike lane, since the DOT doesn’t seem interested in checking up on them itself.

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Lagging Behind


Intersection in Los Angeles. Go ahead, cross it—I dare you!

While in Los Angeles, blood stains the asphalt as raging motorists take their cue from overbuilt streets, driving faster and faster, indifferent to the fates of any who might get in their way, the cities surrounding our retrograde Wild-Westward-Ho kind of town are changing their boulevards into spaces for a living community. Where once traffic groaned in ceaseless streams of overheated metal, and angry faces grimaced through the glass, now you can find happy people walking or cycling from shop to bar to eatery, meeting each other face to face, and even—odd though it may seem when you’re cowering on most of the streets of LA—enjoying a beautiful day right there on the sidewalk!

A particular case in point is Long Beach, once a grim industrial town and still, thanks to its port and an active manufacturing sector, a powerhouse of the US economy. In fact, the Port of Long Beach was just named “#1 in North America” by Asia Cargo News, which recently polled 15,000 shipping industry pros for their opinions. It’s not some sleepy little tourist town, but a muscular, hard-working business center.

And it has ambitions to be even more: the city’s new motto is “The Most Bicycle-Friendly City in America,” and though it hasn’t quite reached that goal, it’s well on its way.


Protected bikeway in downtown Long Beach.

To the point that Citylab, an offshoot of the Atlantic Monthly dedicated to news of urban culture and development, featured it in a January 2012 article by Nate Berg. Besides exploring the bicycle boulevards, thousands of new bike racks, and protected bikeways in the heart of downtown, Berg’s article quotes mobility coordinator Charlie Gandy as saying:

“We had our conversations about killing businesses and killing downtown and all that crap, but the inverse has happened.”

Yes, while LA politicos cave in to reality-averse business owners who fear bankruptcy will result from making a little room for anything other than cars, Long Beach discovered that business has been booming and real estate sales—and selling prices—are up, despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

Of course, Los Angeles has long been averse to learning from the examples of other cities—I myself have heard city officials baldly state exactly that in planning meetings—but the rest of the county is not so egotistical. Or should we be fair and just say…not so stupid.

While LA residents die, and the city’s businesses founder, all in the name of the illusion of getting somewhere vaguely faster, the rest of the world is moving on towards a healthier and more prosperous future. Let’s hope that the county’s biggest city can wake up and get moving before the competition is so far ahead they’re out of sight.

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Flying Pigeon LA inventory on June 27, 2015

More of me wandering around the shop talking about the stuff inside of the shop! Guest appearance: Yancey, the owner of the neighboring cafe.

You can check out our Babboe Curve in the very beginning of the video.

Questions? info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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Intuition Is a Lousy Guide to Policy


We all know that LA’s city Council members are both timid and intellectually lazy. When it comes to the progressive transportation infrastructure the city so desperately needs to free it from the tentacles of ever-more-jammed streets and freeways—jammed with cars, of course—they almost invariably opt for doing nothing that could reduce space for driving and parking cars, even if it would increase the capacity of the street.

Not even if it would, as road diets generally do, reduce point-to-point travel time for cars as well as boost safety, speed, and convenience for biking, walking, and transit. This has been proven so many times by real-world observations in actual American cities that only a fool or a pawn of automotive interests could think otherwise.

But in LA we do things by “gut feelings,” and so spend, for example, nearly two billion dollars adding a couple of lanes to the 405 over Sepulveda Pass—only to find that, for our expense and efforts, we’ve actually increased congestion on that stretch; and on the roads that feed into it.

“Induced demand”: it’s not a theory; it’s an observation. We’ve been building more lanes for seventy years, and congestion has gotten progressively worse, not better—while congestion-inducing sprawl has grown far faster than the populations it (dis)serves.

The council and its cohorts in the Bureau of Engineering can’t even be bothered to read the literature showing that Americans (including Angelenos) have been driving fewer miles per person, and fewer miles in total, every year for over ten years.

This flat-earth mindset persists to this day, with neanderthal council members such as Koretz, La Bonge, Cedillo, and, to our surprise, fresh face O’Farrell, fighting to give cars primacy, even as cars batter both the city’s residents and its economy.

But motorheads aren’t the only ones to suffer from gut feelings that are nothing more than gas: so can cyclists.

I remember the worries that filled blogs and comments pages over the rush-hour bus & bike lanes on Wilshire: how on earth could it be safe to share a lane with a gigantic articulated bus? It had been done with great success in other countries, including safety-conscious Germany. But, just as LA’s council won’t condescend even to look at the experiences of other cities, so many of our cyclists fretted endlessly about the bus & bike lanes.

Like the one the fellow in the photo is riding. Like the ones I ride whenever I have to head east or west during rush hour. Like the ones my wife uses to get to her hair salon on occasion.

Forget intuition, and just see what really works. It’s easy—especially when the rest of the world has done your homework for you.

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Post-It Note Planning on Pasadena Avenue “Safety” Scheme

About 15 local people turned up on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at the Boys and Girls Club in Lincoln Heights to hear about Gil Cedillo’s “Pasadena Avenue and Daly Street Safety Project”

There we all were last night: in the Boys and Girls Club gymnasium at 2630 Pasadena Avenue in Lincoln Heights. The late summer sun driving through the windows, washing out the nearly invisible slideshow being projected on a white brick wall. The speaker from the Bureau of Streets Services droning on in bureaucratic language, her voice echoing off the rafters, bouncing down to the audience as a mumbling drone.

When she was done speaking we were asked to get up and fill out 3M Post-It notes with our suggestions and stick them to some poster boards arranged in a semi circle in front of us.

The Bureau of Street Services sent a representative to discuss the project. The visuals were hard to make out. The audio was tough to understand as well.

Hey, I want to totally redecorate your house! I’ve made the following plans (which you can’t really see) and I’ve just spoken about them (in language nobody understands and which you couldn’t really hear anyway). How about you put some Post-Its up on these boards for me with your recommendations. You have 10 minutes. Go!

Next, we will vote on which over-priced decorative sidewalk plaques you want installed, which trees you want planted, and which decorative light posts you want installed. What is this? A complicated question about turning movements for bikes and cars at numerous intersections? Well, I advise you to somehow put that on a Post-It and I’m sure we’ll get to it. Later. Maybe. Probably not. Just be positive, okay? Look, we’re “improving” things!

A few years ago, as the North Figueroa Street bike lane and road diet was roiling through Gil Cedillo’s staged “town hall” meetings on its way to an unjust and untimely death, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation snuck in a road diet on nearby Pasadena Avenue. The political impact of the Pasadena Avenue road diet (which only affected a few blocks of Pasadena Avenue) was negligible to non-existent. This is because, like most streets in LA, Pasadena Avenue has a massive oversupply of space for cars. This oversupply of space actually makes car delays worse while encouraging some terrible driver behavior.

Pasadena Avenue is a classic “stroad” – a street-road hybrid that is the dominant street design across the United States. Stroads feature highway-like designs, to enable the fastest possible motorist speeds, yet also pass through the densest, most built-up, intersection- and turning-movement congested portions of our cities. Imagine a rural highway. Now place a red light every 500 to 1,000 feet. Line that rural highway with tens of thousands of residents, hundreds of businesses and buildings set up for a walkable business base. Add dozens of driveways, crosswalks. Maybe add a park or two, and a couple of schools. Hopefully, you can see how this setup, highway-like car movements mixed with busy city life, is pretty dumb. Something usually gives, and in Los Angeles the highway-like car movement won out, the small businesses and residents lost.

With no prompting from the community, and with the extra road width the road diet on Pasadena Avenue gave him, Councilman Cedillo has ordered city staff to make plans for decorative sidewalk paving, street tree removal, decorative street lighting, and some classic Los Angeles disappearing bike lanes on a portion of Pasadena Avenue. The design speed for motorists in-between intersections on Pasadena Avenue will remain at their stroad-like maximum. Problematic intersections, pinch points along the route, will be ignored when it comes to bike lanes and will be addressed with expensive half-measures for pedestrians.

I can only guess what the plan has cost the tax payer at this point, but with streetscape plans and road design work at the stage I saw at last nights meeting, I think we’re already past the $100,000 mark. The total project cost is somewhere around $2,500,000 ($2.5 million).

So based on what I saw last night, what would I change about the project? Where to begin …

Note: project stretches from Figueroa to just past the 5-points, but magically skips the 5-points entirely. For your “safety”!

  1. Project scope: the project leap-frogs over one of the nastiest intersections in the community, 5-points, where Daly, Pasadena, and Avenue 26 come together. Just re-humanizing this intersection properly is worth $2.5 million and would help locals lives more than the half-measure plans already drawn up.
  2. Automobile design speeds: I still see 12’+ car lanes between red lights and intersections in the project plans. I still see the insane left turn onto Workman from Pasadena Avenue untouched. This “safety” project will not slow car drivers down to safe urban speeds between red lights (20 mph or less).
  3. A double disappearing bike lane at Workman and Avenue 28.

  4. Disappearing bike lanes: at the scariest pinch-points on Pasadena Avenue, the bike lanes simply disappear. Between Avenue 28 to the 5-Points (heading south) a car lane should be eliminated – instead, the bike lane just vanishes and “sharrows” are to be painted (these are the stroad of bike lanes) as cars gun it from the Avenue 28 light into two lanes of traffic heading towards 5-points. The bike lane should continue down Pasadena Avenue, and hang a right at 5-points as Pasadena makes its way down to the Broadway viaduct heading into Chinatown. At Pasadena and Workman heading north east, the bike lane disappears and left-turning cars heading south and two merging lanes of traffic going north east converge. This is a nightmare now. It will be more of a nightmare once “arroyo stones” are placed in the painted median and cyclists have nowhere to go. Continuing north east on Pasadena, after passing the Heritage Square train station, the bike lanes disappear on their way past Figueroa – a broken link to a large population biking for transportation.
  5. No amenity for left turning cyclists: bike riders heading to work or school need to make turns. There is nothing in the plans, particularly near East Avenue 35 where bollards will “protect” the bike lane, to indicate to cyclists how to make a left on their way to school at Hillside Elementary. Bike lane bollards will similarly prevent easy and safe left turns into the Heritage Square train station.
  6. In the morning, the air smells like diesel. The roar of cars destroys conversations and community connections. This decorative pavement treatment isn’t going to help.

  7. Wasteful decorations: why spend hundreds of thousands on lights and sidewalks when you can’t maintain what we’ve already got? I’d prefer to see more broken sidewalks fixed in the surrounding neighborhood rather than one super shiny, patterned, bronze-plaqued, strip of sidewalk with high priced fancy light posts. Save the deluxe treatment for a time when it will do some good. Right now, we need the basics. Who will walk on this fancy sidewalk when all the surrounding sidewalks are broken?
  8. Flashing crosswalks where a passive speed control will do: at East Avenue 33 instead of spending all that money on flashing crosswalks, how about spending a lot less and narrowing roadway width, adding some visual cues, doing some passive design to influence motorist behavior? There are many acceptable shared-use and placemaking principles being ignored by the project staff in order to maintain a rural highway standard on Pasadena Avenue.
  9. Project ignores pedestrian access to Heritage Square Station: the project posters I saw included no added crossing point for pedestrians at Carlota, no road narrowing at French Street. Again, no passive design that would make crossing the street to the station feel and look safe.
  10. No non-city bike parking or amenities: let’s say that city staff’s wildest dreams come true and people start using this pre-broken bike lane to get to school and the train station, etc. Where will they park their bikes? When they go shopping in Lincoln Heights, where will they park their bikes? There is no concerted effort to coordinate with the BID, Metro, the Boys and Girls Club, nor the school district to install quality bike parking along this corridor at destinations cyclists will need access to. A few staple racks placed at city hall’s discretion on the sidewalks isn’t cutting it.
  11. Project Timeline: Instead of shrinking the improvements down into bite-sized chunks, we’re going for full bloat here. $2.5 million where $250,000 would do. As a result, Cedillo’s doing all this planning in order to beg Metro for money to implement these plans … by the summer of 2017. An election year! What a surprise! His plans to install diagonal parking on Figueroa also had a similar timeline. Instead of going for the bloated corpse style of plan, why not try and use a couple of grand to make portions of Pasadena Avenue work for the neighborhood? A proper plaza at Workman and Pasadena Avenue with that left turn pocket onto Workman eliminated would go a long way. Spend the big money on the big problems: tackle the 5-points.
  12. Pre-baked Planning: Cedillo has no planning experience worth mentioning and no respect for the idea of consensus or community vision. In the end, no matter the consequences, he gets paid to do this and he doesn’t really care whether things work out on a daily basis or not. His chief concern is only whether something will look good on a campaign mailer or in a news article. We are little people. If we don’t go along with his plans, we are ignored. If we do go along, we have to keep our mouths shut and be happy with what Uncle Gil gives us. The bottom line ism “Shut up! Be grateful you’re even getting this!” We were brought into a community meeting and asked to choose which of the two bronze plaques we liked best. That is a disrespectful waste of our time and staff time. It turns us into antagonists because we can plainly see that none of the paid city staff in the room has the power to change anything about the plans popping out of Cedillo’s Easy Bake Oven.

The application for $2.5 million will be submitted to Metro sometime in December of this year. We’ll see about that. Cedillo’s staff promise a construction completion date by the summer of 2017. Again, we’ll see.

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Nobody Can Hear You Scream in Space Ride on Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nobody Can Hear You Scream In Space June 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 7 p.m. we are bringing the sound bike party back to #bikeLA with the Nobody Can Hear You Scream in Space Ride (NCHYSIS Ride or #NCHYSIS). Bike with us to some cool places to dance like animals on a unique bicycle-audio-electromagnetic experience. We will go some places where you never thought you’d be dancing. Costumes STRONGLY encouraged – space travel clothes or caveman chic. Don’t be the guy/gal not dressed up!

Meet:
Heritage Square station of the Gold Line (3545 Pasadena Ave, Los Angeles, California 90065) on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Bring:

  • Space travel clothes or your Caveman/woman Finery
  • A bicycle in good working order
  • Front and rear lights for your bike

What to expect:
Expect to be surprised, to dance into the night, to leave no trace, and disturb no resident. We only have hints of some of the locations, and we’re not allowed to tell you – it will be a surprise!

This will not be a fast ride. It will be slow or moderate paced. We WILL be getting down.

No need to make reservations, just show up and bring your friends, lovers, cavemen, space travelers, mom, uncle, FM radio, and make sure your bike and bike lights work!

There is a Facebook Event page for this ride.

If you have questions, post a comment or email info@flyingpigeon-la.com

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