Shaking Up the City Council?

Congratulations to David Ryu, winner of yesterday’s run-off election in Los Angeles Council District 4.

CD4 has long been saddled with retrograde gladhander Tom LaBonge, an expert schmoozer who never met a photo op he didn’t like, nor a bikeway he couldn’t block. He would talk with wide-eyed enthusiasm about cycling in LA whenever crowds gathered—even if, as at the opening of CD1’s Seventh Street road diet a copule of years ago, he had nothing to do with the project being celebrated. He jumped and pirouetted like a cheerleader at meetings for the Fourth Street Neighborhood Greenway—but then, despite the pep talks, shut the project down when a small knot of five or six Hancock Park homeowners started to feel nervous and called in complaints.

LaBonge also opposed—still opposes, as a lame duck—the Lankershim Boulevard road diet, the Sixth Street road diet (along one of LA’s more crashworthy corridors), the green bike lanes on Spring Street (still in place but no longer green, at the behest of Hollywood movie brats), and the most livable proposal for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge refit, Option 3, supported by thousands of residents, dozens of local businesses, and most of the involved neighborhood councils. LaBonge also can take credit for removing thirty-three sidewalk bike racks along Larchmont Boulevard; they had been retrofitted to the poles of decommissioned parking meters when LADOT installed paystations along that charming little shopping street, but some rich folks huffed and puffed that thirty feet was too far a walk from their cars to swipe their Amex cards for parking, and Tom gleefully ripped out the bike racks and put back the old-fashioned meters-on-a-stick.

Ryu’s opponent, Carolyn Ramsay, was LaBonge’s anointed successor, and while she came to all the right meetings, and said all the right things (mostly), so did her mentor LaBonge. Ramsay also had some off-base ideas about bikeways proposed for Hillhurst in Los Feliz and for Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of Tinseltown; apparently she believes that cyclists should be shunted off to secondary roads, out of the way of motorheads and out of sight of the destinations they might be wanting to pedal to.

Let us hope that Ryu, who often refused to elucidate his positions in any precise manner, saying that he “had to study the issue further,” will take a clear-minded look at what the future must look like if LA is to become more than just a traffic sump. Ryu has, in fact, not attended many meetings with bicycle and pedestrian advocates, and the City Council has a bad record in traffic management generally, favoring anything that makes more room for cars, and apparently ignorant of induced demand and the inability of driving to transport people effectively in densely-populated, built-out cities. Honest traffic engineers have known for decades that the more roads you build, the more lanes you provide, the more traffic jams you gain for your efforts. Cities that prioritize walking, cycling, and transit are the ones that will grow not only wealthier but healthier in coming years. Constantly building infrastructure that makes active transportation unpleasant, difficult, dangerous, and often impossible is a superhighway to the dead and decaying past. LA has built itself into the poster-child of jammed roads and crusted lungs; we will not escape that fate by endlessly repeating the mistakes that created this mess.

A Wal-Mart economy based on poverty and sprawl will not lift LA into the ranks of the world’s most desirable cities.

Ryu (like Ramsay) supported Option 3 for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge, and this has been a litmus test for neighborhood activists throughout the city. The Board of Public works last week ramrodded through approval of car-centric Option 1. Maybe Ryu can do a reverse Cedillo once he’s sworn in, and blockade a project that would be truly harmful to the community, to offset Roadkill Gil’s suppression of Fig4All.

Or did he support Option 3 knowing that the decision would be a fait accompli before he took office, and that he could gain support without risking controversy?

Guess we’ll know soon enough….


They’re At It Again

Council Member O’Farrell’s car blocking pedestrian access to the press conference—Freudian slip?

Yes, our so-called representatives on the city council are at it again: trying to keep the Hyperion/Glendale bridge complex a speedway for cut-through drivers, at the expense of anybody hoping to walk or bicycle across the great chasm caused by the I-5 and the LA River between Atwater and Silver Lake. What will be in effect a one-mile freeway between the two communities will dump road-raging motorists onto two popular shopping streets, with predictable results. So, yesterday council members Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell held a press conference at which they grandly announced a “bicycle and pedestrian bridge” over the river on the old Red Car trestles, roughly paralleling the soon-to-be-rebuilt Hyperion/Glendale road bridge.

The problem is that the two have no functional relationship. The bike/ped bridge is an access point to the bike path on the right bank of the river, and as such is very nice. But: it doesn’t cross the freeway, and if you do manage to wind your complicated way through various half-hidden paths, and then cross a number of busy lanes with bad sightlines, you find that it doesn’t even provide decent access to or from Silver Lake. Unless you climb several long flights of stairs, it dumps you onto a bleak section of Riverside Drive. It’s fine for Atwater-based roadies who want to work out on the river path, but useless as a transportation facility.

In other words, pretty much a Bridge to Nowhere.

In exchange for this short stub of concrete, we are to surrender protected bike lanes on the real bridge, and make do with floppy plastic bollards to guard us from speeding motor traffic. And at that, cyclists will be lucky: pedestrians will lose an entire sidewalk from the popular Option 3 plan that the latest LaBonge/O’Farrell proposal hopes to replace. Yes, our bikeless brethren would have to cross four lanes of speeding traffic to the north side of the bridge, and then all too often cross back at the other end to reach their destinations. Crosswalks, by the way, are not included (so far) in the plan, so walkers would have to trudge to the nearest traffic signal to get across in one piece.

All so drivers can imagine they save a few seconds while crossing the bridge at 55mph instead of the 35 that fewer and narrower lanes would mandate.

And they might not even be faster with all that: studies of road diets have shown that, while top speeds decrease, transit times are often faster than they were with more lanes, since people now drive more rationally and don’t hurry themselves into mini-jams. (See page 8 of this PDF studying a Kentucky road diet, just one of many.)

But LaBonge and O’Farrell can only think of “cars” when they see roads. And they know the community disagrees—after all, the Option 3 folks have dozens and dozens of letters and petition signatures from residents and businesses in both Atwater and Silver Lake supporting a fully multi-modal, traffic-calmed bridge. So they scheduled the press conference at 9AM on a workday…at the same time as the popular “Blessing of the Bicycles” at Good Samaritan Hospital miles away. They directed news crews to interview only the four opponents of Option 3 who had shown up, ignoring the much larger crowd of Option 3 supporters. And they hustled themsleves away before anyone other than the fatuous broadcast agencies could confront them with questions.

So the fight against the Death Bridge concept is not over. In fact a big battle may take place this Friday, when the city council reviews a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” that will somehow claim that drawing more and faster traffic to the bridge won’t harm the communities at either end of it, nor the remnants of natural environment it crosses.

The meeting is at City Hall downtown, Friday, May 15th, at 10AM. Take a day off from work and be there. It’s your city. You can’t let them ruin it. Can you?

Here’s the Facebook page, courtesy of Don Ward: Huge Step for Hyperion.

Read more, and see the list of Option 3 supporters, in this excellent Streetsblog LA article by Damien Newton, who was there.

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Lincoln Park chaos rewards law breaking motorists, punishes pedestrians

We’re spending $833,425 so an acre of Lincoln Park can be paved, even though a measly $500/day rents 100+ parking spots from the DMV across the street.

I called Gil Cedillo’s field office in Highland Park last week to find out more about the paving of over an acre of the interior of Lincoln Park for a new, unneeded, $833,425 parking lot for patrons and staff at Plaza de la Raza.

I heard back from one of his deputies. His office promises to manage construction in the park so that pedestrians in the area are safe. I imagine their management couldn’t do much worse than letting people drive in through an unpoliced entrance to the interior of a historic park. I guess we’ll see.

As to the mechanics of why this parking lot is being built … it is just sort of a shoulder shrug from the authorities. Walking around the park is atrocious – utility poles block access; high-speed arterial street designs make it dangerous; crossing points are few and far between with long delays to wait for signals; curb ramps are in short supply or nonexistent. Within the park, the pavement is gravelly, uneven, broken with gaps that make it unusable for those with not fit and able to jump over cracks. The bathrooms are rarely cleaned. The playground dotted with deferred maintenance, smears of melted ice cream from weekends long past. Concession stands long closed. A pool that has been drained. A carousel sold off for parts. A boathouse shuttered forever.

The cost to rent the large paved parking lot across Mission Drive from Plaza de la Raza? A measly $500/day, the addition of the DMV to the Plaza’s liability insurance, and a shifting of the Plaza’s security guard from the illegal parking lot in the park to the DMV’s lot.

To spare the Plaza this expenditure of the money the City gives it to fund its operation, the city is going to spend $833,425 paving the park interior to build a parking lot. To save a couple thousand dollars a year in fees (how many special events will they do? 10? 20?), we’re going to build a parking lot at a cost hundreds of times that amount. We’re going to pave the interior of a historic park … for what?

How many dance and music classes does one have to teach before your can drive onto the lawn in the middle of Pershing Square? Can you imagine someone cruising on the paths in Echo Park in their BMW and NOT having hell get raised? Is it acceptable in MacArthur Park for people to drive onto the lawn by the lake, uncontrolled, for free, whenever they want? Is Penmar Park open to drivers in the middle of it? Do people get to park wily nily in Grand Park downtown or drive through the park on Spring and 5th?

Where in this city is it okay to pull directly onto pedestrian paths and drive through a park like this? Where would we reward this mismanagement, this law breaking, with $800,000+ in pavement?

Lincoln Park, that is where.


Join us on the NELA Living Museum Fundraiser Bike Tour on Sunday, May 17, 2015

We’re co-hosting this ride to raise money to restore this once-beautiful mural of native peoples on Marmion Way.

The Living Museum and Flying Pigeon bike shop are celebrating MOTA day by co-sponsoring ‘Museum Riders’.

The ride meets at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065) on Sunday, May, 17, 2015. at 12:30 p.m. We roll out at 1 p.m. Suggested donation is $20 to benefit restoration of the Southwest Museum Mural.

RSVP at Simply select ‘The Living Museum‘ from the drop down menu and type ‘Museum Riders’ in the memo field below it.

My bakfiets cargo bike will dispense refreshments along the ride! Food and drink on wheels!

We will tour the greater Sycamore Grove area via an easy bike ride with stops at the Southwest Museum and the Lummis Home. The ride will also feature pit stop conversations that will explore local art, architecture and history along the way, including Avenue 50 Studios and the historic Cycleway with author Dan Koeppel (a contributor to “LAttitudes: an Atlas to LA.”), plus other fascinating luminaries. Enticing refreshments provided. Family Friendly. Enjoy a Car Free experience with Easy Metro Goldline access.

RSVP at Simply select ‘The Living Museum’ from the drop down menu and type ‘Museum Riders’ in the memo field below it.

Suggested donation is $20 to benefit restoration of the Southwest Museum Mural. All donations are tax deductible.

The Flying Pigeon LA shop is located at 3404 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065.

By Metro:
The Gold Line has two stops, Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights and Heritage Square that are equidistant from our shop. We prefer Heritage Square – exit station on French Street, left on Arroyo Seco, right on Loreto and stop when you get to Figueroa.

The 81 bus runs up and down this portion of Figueroa 24 hours a day. Cypress and Figueroa is the closest stop. If you miss it, Amabelle and Figueroa is still pretty close.

We have a huge bike parking rack out front.

Car parking is available on the side streets and it’s free!

Link to buy tickets:

Living Museum fundraiser ride on Facebook May 2015


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Dept. of WTF: Gil Cedillo Paves the Park

It is becoming increasingly evident that Gil Cedillo does indeed possess the quality most necessary for a member of the Los Angeles City Council: and that is an utter lack of imagination. Coupled with demure subservience to his out-of-district campaign contributors and his pandering to the self-proclaimed elites of LA, mostly developers, and you have, to modify another Gilbert’s phrase, “the very model of a modern city councilman.”

His latest stupid politician trick is a real stunner—or it would be, except that we expect this now from this most hopeless of so-called representatives: He is planning to spend over $800,000 to pave over part of Lincoln park so that his beloved motorheads need not sully the soles of their Gucci shoes with soil or grass while slumming at the Plaza de la Raza.

Of course, they’ve already been arrogantly parking on the grass in an effort to avoid actually strolling when they visit the park. So what’s Cedillo’s answer? Pave away, of course! To paraphrase the words of Vietnam War apologists, “We have to destroy the park in order to save it.” This, in the most park-poor of major US cities, in a neighborhood desperate for recreation and nature.

This park is in 90031, a ZIP code where, according to, 13.5% of the households own no car at all, and 33.5% own only one, which is probably being driven to work, not to the park. Families in adjacent ZIP codes own even fewer cars: in nearby East Los Angeles, over 21% of households have no car. True, the roads around Lincoln Park are crowded with other people’s cars—but the incessant traffic is one thing folks go to a park to escape. They need relief, not more traffic in the park itself.

In the age of Über, does parking über alles really make sense?

Especially as there are vast parking lots just across Valley Boulevard from the park. As you can see in the map, there’s even a handy crosswalk leading to a pleasant stroll around a lake, which takes one to the Plaza de a Raza:

In the new sharing economy, it’s not just car and bike sharing that are big: “shared parking” has become a growing trend. Let’s try that here. Those lots are never full. They belong to the DMV, which has made lots available for public parking before, as in San Francisco.

Maybe Cedillo could devote that $800,000 to funding a shuttle for those who can’t, for reasons of physical or psychological debility, walk so far—counting the stroll around the lake, it’s about one city block. That might at least provide a couple of driving jobs for local residents.

What do you think of paving the park? Leave comments below or at Josef’s earlier post on this subject.

Or better yet, email Cedillo and Mayor Garcetti with your thoughts:

Arturo Chavez
Chief of Staff for Gil Cedillo

Mayor Eric Garcetti


Car-crazy Councilman Cedillo bends to selfish Plaza de la Raza motorists

There is not a parking problem at Plaza de la Raza.

There is an attitude problem.

The people working at and patronizing this institution feel that their selfish desire to drive right up to the door of their building trumps every single other user groups needs in Lincoln Park. No punk rock skaters, nor softball team moms, nor fishing dudes, nor parents with kids riding bikes or playing in the playground feel the need to drive in the middle of the park. Yet, the people at the Plaza, despite ample free public parking all around the Plaza continue to break the law and despoil a historic green space in Lincoln Park.

Gil Cedillo is rewarding these entitled, selfish, people with a parking lot where they have ruined the lawn and turned an explicitly car-free space into an un-policed drive-thru. The project to turn the grass and trees in front of the Plaza into an unneeded asphalt parking lot passed through city council (CF 15-0091) a few weeks ago. The price tag for the project is $833,425.

This rough map shows how much of the Lincoln Park will be paved over if the parking lot expansion happens.

There are hundreds (yes, hundreds) of parking spaces nearby. Here is a video I made showing how much space is made available for public parking and several nearby locations with lots that are not being used that could go to the Plaza:

The massive DMV parking lot across the street from Plaza de la Raza could be opened to Plaza patrons in the evenings. Sound impossible? In 2011, a DMV office in San Francisco made its lot available to the public in the evening to relieve parking pressure. You can read about the Panhandle DMV parking lot opening to the public for after hours parking.

Who has the back of the people of Lincoln Heights? All the joggers, the old Asian ladies doing their tai chi and calisthenics in the morning, little kids learning to ride their bikes, couples walking their dogs, kids walking to and from school, USC and county hospital workers crossing through the park – none of us count on the interior paths as much as one jerk driving to the Plaza. That isn’t fair and it isn’t right.

The money going to pay for this unneeded parking could find many useful purposes in the park, but that is a post for another time.

I’ve documented this abuse in the park for the past 5 years. There is an email trail going back to 2010 between the former LA park police (since absorbed into the LAPD) and the LAPD and members of my household. Our calls to ticket unauthorized cars driving on the paths and lawn have gone unreturned or were simply dismissed.

If you’re upset about this issue, give Councilman Gil Cedillo a piece of your mind at 213-473-7001 or leave a comment below.


Spoke(n) Art Ride on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Join the Spoke(n) Art Ride this Saturday, May9, 2015 for an art gallery tour of North East Los Angeles. This month we’re starting the ride with an art show in the Cypress Park Art Tunnel running underneath Figueroa in front of our shop.

Meet at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop (located at 3404 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065) at 6 p.m. The ride departs at 6:30 p.m.

The Spoke(n) Art Ride is a slow-paced, monthly, tour of galleries open for NELAart’s Second Saturday – a special night when area galleries and studios open their doors to the public until the wee hours.

Don’t have a bike? No problem! Flying Pigeon LA rents single speed beach cruisers with blinkie lights for $20. We have a fleet of bikes – just make sure to show up at or before 6 p.m. to ensure you get a bike! Things get hectic at start time.

For more general information about the ride, please check out the Bike Oven’s Spoke(n) Art page.

This ride is about art, community, the city, conversation, and living the good life without damaging the lives of others. If you want to “get faded” and “mash” – please do go on another bike ride.

We obey major traffic lights on this ride, we are polite to gallery owners and the general public on this ride. Seriously, this is Saturday night, you are free to do as you please. Don’t ruin our fun and we won’t ruin yours.

If you want to keep up with the ride online, or post updates and photos of it using your phone, we will be doing the same! Use the hashtag #spokenartride on Twitter and Instagram or spokenart on Flickr and we can all check out your perspective on the night.

Facebook Event Spoken Art Ride May 2015.

Any questions? or just leave a comment below.

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Cedillo and the Lincoln Park parking lot sell out to Plaza patrons

Reckless impunity? Blithe ignorance? Malevolent entitlement? What should we call the latest wrinkle in the losing battle against car drivers illegally driving into, and through, Lincoln Park to park next to Plaze de la Raza?

Gilbert Cedillo, aka “Roakill Gil”, friend to motordom, enemy of parks, enemy to children, safe streets, clean air, and enemy to natural beauty has found the money to “improve” the despoiled dirt patch outside Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Park by paving it over and converting it into a parking lot.

This is being done despite the massive over supply of free public parking surrounding Plaza de la Raza. In a unique “drive-thru art” system, patrons of the Plaza (and anyone else for that matter) can hang a right off Mission and cruise through the park at will in their multi-ton vehicles. Is there any other park in Los Angeles that allows this type of insane traffic mixing in the heart of what was once a car-free environment?

Lincoln Park suffers from a great number of problems. Pedestrian, and disabled, access is a big one, and one that could be fixed for a few thousand dollars in paint and concrete. Bike parking is nonexistent. The grounds are a mess of gopher holes. The place could use a good place-making makeover. The pool has been closed for 5+ years. The boathouse is closed forever. The carousel, once restored, is now shuttered for good. The Parks Department funds lots of excellent arts, athletics, and cultural programs but never advertises them (several flyers in a bulletin board outside their park office not withstanding). In other words, there are other dire, pressing, needs fundamental to Lincoln Park fulfilling its mission as a park. These needs rank much higher than adding more parking in the middle of the park.

Welcome to Gil Cedillo’s LA CD1! When he’s not actively stopping life-saving road diets the councilman is spending thousands of tax dollars to facilitate patrons of Plaza de la Raza in their abuse of the grounds at Lincoln Park.

When the chairman of the board at Plaza de la Raza, one Freddy Ceja, was Cedillo’s former communication deputy I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is happening. You can call Cedillo’s office at 213-473-7001 to lodge your complaint.

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Wasted Space

Beverly Hills is a city trammeled by a lack of imagination. Poor, beleaguered Mark Elliot, of Better Bike, a Safe Streets advocacy group in the 90210, has been trying to promote bike lanes and bike parking for years, but the city has remained obdurately thickheaded about any concept that doesn’t require dedicating every public square inch and dollar to fawning over cars. Even to the point of completely ignoring not only the majority of public input but the bike lane consultant they hired a few years ago. Even to the point of losing millions each year providing free parking in their expensive multistory garages…to the richest people in California.

Their “bike plan” has so far consisted of putting sharrows along Crescent Drive&mmdash;a street that avoids most retail zones—and adding bike lanes to Burton Way. The latter was not too difficult, as the right-hand traffic lane on that street was originally around twenty feet wide. As for bike parking—in a city that claims to suffer from inadequate parking supply—well: after a recent “surge” of installations, Beverly Hills can boast of about thirty-three racks for the whole city. (At least there’s a rack-on-request program, consisting of a PDF you print and fill out….)

The form specifies that racks can be installed only on concrete. I hope this is not true—it certainly isn’t anywhwere else on earth—because the city has so much wasted space in the streets that could be put to use. Note the photos below, taken on the block of South Beverly Drive between Charleville and Gregory. This is Beverly Hills’s main shopping street for its south-of-Santa-Monica residents, anD one that is crying out for bike racks. There are all of four on this block. (For comparison, similar Larchmont Boulevard in Midtown Los Angeles sports about fourteen racks plus a bike corral.) But couldn’t there be a few bike racks in the empty spaces delineated by white lines that you see here?

Just saying….

It’s pretty sad to be about the only city in our county that is behind Los Angeles in bike parking! Oh Mighty 90210, you can do better!


Riding a cargo bike with a kid to Dodger Stadium

In countless public hearings about bike projects across the country people stand up and testify that “it is impossible to ride a bike when you have kids and a family.” I’ve been living an “impossible” dream the past few years, I guess. Let’s go one step further. Riding your kid up a mountain to a car-oriented major league baseball stadium: is it possible? What is it like when you do it?

On Sunday, April 19, 2015, I saddled up with my kid and rode my dutch bakfiets cargo bike up to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7 to 0.

The ride was pretty mellow. We walked through the ball park turnstiles just as the national anthem was playing, grabbed some Dodger dogs and a bag of peanuts, and made our way to our seats.

The ride down the hill after the game was great, though it always gets scary in that one or two block gap between congested stadium traffic and surrounding streets like North Broadway and Sunset Boulevard. On those larger surrounding streets drivers do all sorts of dangerous and stupid things after a game. This wasn’t our first bike trip to a ball game so we knew what to look out for, but it is cause for a little extra anxiety all the same.

The Dodgers have really done a great job of installing quality bike parking all around the stadium. Perhaps they haven’t installed enough! We actually saw a few of their small racks nearly full. I took a picture of a young couple from DTLA after the game unlocking and getting ready to ride home – the novelty of other people riding bikes to the Dodger game has not yet worn off.

I suffered through many a late evening traffic crawl out of the parking lot at Dodger Stadium as a young boy with my dad and brothers. The place still has an other-worldly feel to me when I ride up to it on a bike.

On a previous trip up the mountain, I rode my daughter in a Nihola-brand cargo tricycle. Tricycles and hills aren’t generally a good combination. Even though the Nihola is an excellent tricycle, it was still a slog – but a bearable slog. My bakfiets handled itself quite nicely, though my roller brakes are definitely due for a servicing soon and I should have checked my tire pressure – I found out later I was riding on half-inflated tires.

There are all sorts of cultural barriers that stand between most of us and a life riding a cargo bike around with our kids. Let this video be an inspiration to all you moms and dads out there wondering if you can make it two miles to your kids school in the morning. Generally, the answer is: yes!

I arrived at the upper deck ticket office panting a bit, but the ride was pleasant. All my school run commuting from LA up to Pasadena has got my hill climbing and traffic awareness skills up.

As for the way the Dodgers treated us as visitors to their ball park this was by far the BEST experience I’ve ever had at the stadium, EVER, after riding a bike to it. The bike parking is no longer beside the smoking sections. Parking lot staff are not hostile and everything else just feels relaxing and fun (like baseball games should!). It would be nice if the Dodgers picked one or two entrance routes and designated them as more bicycle or pedestrian friendly to ease up on the frayed nerves of walking and bike riding fans. This might help the local residents in the area around the stadium mellow out about game day traffic as they might get a nicer walking and bike riding experience out of it too in the off season.

So, is it possible to ride a kid in a cargo bike to Dodger Stadium? Yup, it sure is. It is actually a fun and healthy way to get to the stadium and it leaves you more money for Dodger dogs!

Want to know what route we took to get to the game? Riding from Cypress Park (where our shop is located) it took us about 30 minutes to get to the top of Dodger Stadium. Here is the path we took:

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