Updates on Mark Leones and Margaret Conway, Box bites back on city bike ed and a bakfiets full of links

October 24, 2011

A few quick notes to start the week, starting with a few good follow-ups on two recent cycling deaths behind the Orange Curtain.

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The Orange County Register offers a nice profile of Mark Leones, who died last week after his bike hit a groove in the pavement on a steep downhill in Laguna Beach. They also provide a look at Margaret Conway, killed on her way home from work at Disneyland on October 13th.

Sounds like both will be very missed.

And thanks to the Register for their much-improved coverage of local cycling issues.

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In a must read, former city council candidate Stephen Box says the bike plan is great, but L.A. cyclists would benefit even more if all city agencies were to educate their employees on the rights of cyclists.

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LACBC has been selected to conduct a vital study of the economic effects of bike lanes and road diets on NELA’s York Blvd. KCRW’s Steve Herbert looks at the dangers of dooring and how to avoid it. Nagging pays off as Rick Risemberg gets bike racks installed in Playa del Rey. Friday’s monthly Critical Mass should be a costumed affair. Could separated bike lanes help transform Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock into a safe, sustainable and vibrant street? South Pasadena gets the San Gabriel Valley’s first bike plan. Simi Valley will soon connect a gap in a key bikeway, allowing cyclists to ride to the local Metrolink station. Evidently, those folks at the Bikerowave know how to party. The recumbent world holds it’s first trade show in Pomona this past weekend. Long Beach plans to survey bike use to determine next steps. One last chance to learn how to track race this year at the Encino Velodrome; speaking of which, if you’re looking for a good cause to support L.A. cycling, they could use the help.

Corona del Mar bike advocate Frank Peters beautifully captures the feeling of a single night’s ride; if you’ve ever wondered why we ride, this is a pretty good answer. A Navy corpsman is honored for saving the life of an injured cyclist in Oceanside last spring. NIMBYist landowners block extension of a Yuba City bike trail. A hit-and-run driver knocks down a homeless couple in Chico. A Sacramento cyclist helps capture three teenage home burglars. Richard Masoner, author of one of the nation’s leading bike blogs, barely survives a near miss with a brand-new Chevy crossover.

American cyclist Joseph Papp gets his penalty reduced to an eight year ban for doping, in addition to three years probation, including six months of house arrest, for distributing EPO and human growth hormone. Bicycling looks at energy bars. A Tucson cyclist is killed after reportedly running a stop sign, while Oregon Live asks if it’s worth it for cyclists to run red lights. The victim of a Brooklyn cycling collision was a well-known New York artist. An NYC community board backs off a proposal to license and register riders. Eighty percent of Manhattan voters embrace plans for a new bike share program. Kathy Perry and Russel Brand ride through Gotham. A New York Times columnist nears the end of his 4,100 mile cross-country bike ride; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. A Mississippi driver faces up to 13 years for killing a Dutch cyclist while high on morphine. Cyclists rally to support a German bike tourist injured in a Virginia collision. A Florida cyclist dies after falling over a guard rail on a highway ramp; as always, the question is why?

Bicycling profiles Eddy Merckx, possibly the greatest bike racer of all time; meanwhile, another candidate for best ever is the 23rd best triathlete. Toronto police propose licensing cyclists to improve enforcement; yes, the solution to over crowded streets is to make it harder for people to get out of their cars. Despite five local cyclists hit by cars in just two weeks, Sussex, UK press call for a crackdown on selfish cyclists; they’ve got a point, it is rude of us to bleed all over their cars. Tensions rise between German cyclists and drivers, while the Transport Minister threatens to mandate helmets if user rates don’t rise. How the Dutch got their cycle paths; Dutch drivers and cyclists often share the road without exactly sharing the road.

Finally, a sad day as former Aussie cycling champ Bob Ryan passes away at age 73. And a special note to occasional Kiwi correspondent the Trickster, and any other New Zealanders who may be reading — congratulations on a well-deserved victory by the All-Blacks.

And don’t forget that President Obama is coming into L.A. at rush hour Monday night; sounds like a perfect excuse to bike to work.


SaMo art ride, High Desert Fall Century, Stitching the L.A. River and City of Lights Awards Dinner

October 21, 2011

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art is teaming with Santa Monica Spoke to sponsor a bicycle tour of four Santa Monica exhibitions in the region-wide Pacific Standard Time art exhibition and collaboration between over 60 cultural institutions throughout Southern California. The ride rolls from 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Saturday, October 22nd, with stops at the Sam Francis Gallery, the Eames Office and 18th Street Arts Center.  Admission is free, but registration is required; meet at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica.

The AV High Desert Fall Century takes place on Saturday, October 22nd with rides of 25, 62 and 100 miles along the scenic roads of the Antelope Valley, with the century offering some serious climbing, while the shorter rides are good for more recreational riders. It starts at 7 am at the northeast parking lot of Antelope Valley College, near 30th St. West and Ave. J-8. The low $25 registration fee includes sag support, rest stops and lunch at the end of the ride.

Sunday, October 23rd, Richard Risemberg, Mr. Bicycle Fixation himself, leads the latest edition of his popular Stitching the River rides across all the classic bridges crossing the Los Angeles River between Broadway and Olympic in Downtown L.A. The short, 14 to 16 mile social ride meets at 10:30 am in Chinatown’s Central Plaza, with the ride rolling at 11 am.

The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Wednesday, October 26th from 6 to 11 pm at La Fonda Supper Club, 2501 Wilshire Blvd. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Times columnist Hector Tobar will be honored; ticket prices have been reduced to $45 for members and non-members, and are available online. Update: note the new date and location above; I hope to see you there.

Saturday, October 29th and Sunday, October 30th, Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles hosts a Women’s Weekend, with rides, food, demos and optional wine tasting.

The Malibu Canyon Gran Fondo rolls on Saturday, October 30th, starting and ending at Saddlerock Ranch, 31743 Mulholland Hwy in Malibu, with rides of 65 miles — and 6,800 feet of climbing — 45 miles and 17 miles, as well as a kids ride along the ranch, with a picnic and after party to follow.

November 1st, 3rd, 7th and 10th, LADOT will hold a series of Westside Mobility meetings to discuss the future of Westside Commuting; topics include Project Overview, Bicycle and Pedestrian, Transit – Light Rail, Bus and BRT, Roadways, Smart Choices for Commuting, Parking, and Project Ideas via Electronic Surveying. See website for times, locations and registration.

Saturday, November 5th through Monday, November 7th, the California Bicycle Coalition will host the 2011 California Bike Summit to help set the statewide bicycle advocacy agenda for 2012 and beyond. The sessions with take place at Downtown’s Kyoto Grand Hotel, with the Monday session held at the California Endowment for Health.

The next ride in the LACBC’s popular series of Sunday Funday rides takes place on Sunday, November 6th with the East Valley Hansen Dam Ride, lead by board member Carrie Ungerman. The ride meets at the North Hollywood Metro Station at Lankershim and Chandler at 9 am and rolls at 9:30. The easy 23 mile ride is free for LACBC members and one guest; memberships will be available at a reduced price.

The South Bay Bike Plan continues it’s long march to approval with hearings before the four remaining city councils: Lawndale on November 7th, Gardena on November 8th, Manhattan Beach on the 15th and Torrance on November 22nd.

Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13th, the Eastside Bike Club hosts the LA Tamale Throwdown at a site to be determined, offering a chance to sample some of the city’s best tamales, coffee and pan Mexicano; bike valet courtesy of Flying Pigeon LA.

Update: The LACBC’s Tour de Taste originally scheduled for Sunday, November 13th, has been postponed, with the date to be determined.

The County of Los Angeles unveils the final draft of their proposed new bike plan, offering a more than 500% increase in bikeways. Your last chance to comment of the plan could come before the County of Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission, Wednesday, November 16th at 9 am in the Hall of Records, Room 150, 320 West Temple Street in Downtown L.A.

December 7th through 11th, Antenna Magazine’s Re:mix Lab will hit L.A. after a semi-national tour, featuring two urban Bad Boy bikes designed by Cannondale in cooperation with Junk Food Clothing. The art, music, fashion and cultural festival will unfold at a site to be selected.

Friday, December 9th, the Midnight Ridazz host what may be the most important ride of the year, when they ensure that thousands of L.A. children will have a happy holiday with the 6th Annual All-City Toy Ride. Routes will begin from points throughout the city, converging on Downtown L.A. to collect the toys and celebrate the season.

Tuesday, December 27th, the LACBC returns to Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse for the 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment, 2911 Main Street. Good beer, good friends, bike valet and a portion of all sales goes to support cycling in the great L.A. area. What’s not to like?


The dog crap theory of road safety

October 21, 2011

Let’s talk responsibility.

Every morning, I walk outside with my dog, carrying a bag in my hand.

Then after a few minutes of watching her sniff every fire hydrant, bush, nook and cranny on our block — the Corgi equivalent of reading her Facebook page — she settles in for a good poop.

And inevitably, when I bend over to pick it up, I have to dodge piles of crap left behind by dog owners who aren’t as responsible.

It’s not just the unpleasant prospect of stepping in it that poses a problem. Or the simple fact that the law clearly requires owners to clean up after their animals.

What their dogs leave behind can spread disease, both to other dogs and the people who may inadvertently come in contact with it. And eventually, when the rains come, it will wash into the storm drains and out to the ocean, fouling the water that countless people swim and surf in.

Granted, one pile of crap isn’t going to cause any real harm. But multiply that by the multiple mounds on my block, and virtually every other block in this City of Angeles and the 88 other cities and towns, as well as unincorporated areas, in the county.

And you’ll start to understand why it’s not safe to eat many of the fish that come out of the bay. Or to spend much time in it yourself.

As I stand waiting for her to finish her morning rounds, I also have an opportunity to study the busy street that runs in front of our building.

I watch as a steady stream of cars flows past, observing countless drivers talking on their hand-held cell phones.

Others turn left or right or change lanes without ever using their turn signals, leaving other drivers to wonder — often with obvious impatience — why the car ahead is slowing down for no apparent reason. Or slamming on their brakes and swerving dangerously into the next lane to get around them.

Then there are the speeding drivers who weave in and out of the morning traffic, ignoring both speed limits and common sense, trusting their own driving skills to avoid the many near misses they create.

And too often, failing.

All this, despite their responsibility to obey the traffic laws they flaunt, and operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner.

Less frequently, I’ll see bikes rolling past as riders make their way up the street to UCLA, or down the street to jobs in Century City or beyond.

From time to time, I see one blow through the red light on the corner, forcing drivers who have waited patiently to cross the street to jam on their brakes to avoid a collision as the rider rushes into their path.

At night, as I take my dog out for the last walk of the day, I often see cyclists ride past without lights, briefly highlighted by the streetlights before rolling into semi-invisibility in the twilight between.

Other times, as I ride my bike, I often watch in amazement as I stop for a red light, only to see a cyclist ride up from behind and ride right through, ignoring my example as well as their own safety.

In fact, I was hit by one the other night, as I stopped and he kept going, brushing hard against my side as he blew through on my right, oblivious to the traffic starting to flow in either direction on the cross street.

Evidently, hitting me and risking getting hit himself were worth it to avoid stopping for less than a minute.

It breaks my heart when I reach an intersection and see oncoming or crossing drivers hesitate, despite having the right-of-way, because they expect me to ride through a stop sign or red light. Or anticipate that I’ll cut in front of them, ignoring both the right-of-way and my own safety.

Because that’s what we’ve trained them to do.

Too often, I find myself waving drivers through the intersection, granting my permission to do what the rules of the road say they have the right to do anyway. Or needlessly clicking out of my pedal and putting my foot down, so they’ll see that I am in fact stopping.

Because, like them, I have a responsibility to obey the law.

And more importantly, to share the road safely.

The difference is, when drivers act irresponsibly, they pose a danger to everyone else on the road. When we do, the risk is primarily to ourselves.

Although we, too, can harm others by our actions.

The problem isn’t irresponsible cyclists, despite what countless bike-hating internet trolls and shock-jock DJs will tell you. Or drivers who have forgotten the danger their vehicles pose, and their responsibility to operate them safely.

Or even dog owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after their pets.

It’s a society that has become irresponsible in the truest sense of the word, willing to let others clean up the messes we create. Except they often don’t do it either.

Whether on Wall Street, in Washington, Sacramento or City Hall, or on our own block.

When that lack of responsibility occurs on the streets, it forces other road users to assume responsibility for our own safety.

By blowing through that red light or stop sign, or driving while distracted — or any of the other countless, seemingly insignificant violations we commit every day — we’re placing responsibility for our own safety in the hands of others, who may or may not accept it.

When they do — or can, for that matter — everyone rolls off safely, if perhaps a little more angry at the cyclists or drivers they blame for posing a hazard to everyone else. And oblivious to the way they do the same things every day.

I’ve often said that the highest responsibility of any cyclist is to ride safely, in a manner that doesn’t pose an unnecessary risk to ourselves or others around us.

And yes, drivers bear that same responsibility, too.

So I promise I won’t make you deal with my crap on the road. I’ll ride responsibly, obeying the law when it’s safe to do so, and rarely, breaking it when safety demands doing something else, and ensuring that safety is always my top priority.

And hope that you won’t make me deal with yours.


Update on death of Mark Leones, a call for peace in Downey, L.A. County releases bike plan

October 20, 2011

Finally, a little more information on the death of cyclist Mark Leones in Laguna Beach on Sunday.

According to the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, the 28-year old Costa Mesa man was riding with a group of six or seven riders when he lost control coming out of a curve on a downhill, struck the curb and was thrown from his bike, striking his chest and the back of his head.

Road conditions were not a factor, and no other bikes or vehicles were involved.

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve been in that same position hundreds of times over the years, where a slight wobble or patch of gravel could have meant disaster on a high speed descent.

We all want to credit our skill for the successful completion of a ride like that. But often, luck can be just as much a factor.

Maybe Leones pushed his just a little too far that day.

There but for the grace of God.

My prayers for his family and loved ones.

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The family of bike rider Genaro Ramirez calls for peace after his shooting death in Downey early Monday morning, and hopes no one will try to retaliate. It may already be too late, though, as the investigation continues into the death of cyclist Juan Gutierrez, who was shot and killed about 10 miles away less than 24 hours later.

My sympathy to the families of both victims.

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The County of Los Angeles unveils the final draft of their proposed new bike plan, offering a more than 500% increase in bikeways. Your last chance to comment of the plan could come before the County of Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission, Wednesday, November 16th at 9 am in the Hall of Records, Room 150, 320 West Temple Street in Downtown L.A.

Meanwhile, Oxnard’s new bike plan calls for 122 miles of new bikeways, while Bakersfield cyclists push for a new plan they can call their own.

And the City of Los Angeles is looking for federal funding to fill in gaps in the L.A. River Bike Path.

Update: I just got late word that the South Pasadena City Council has ordered its staff to draft a cyclist anti-harassment ordinance based on the recently passed L.A. law. Hat’s off to South Pass for taking this key step to protect cyclists — and taking the lead in spreading this vital law beyond L.A. city borders.

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The LACBC has reduced the price of tickets for next week’s 2nd Annual City of Lights Dinner to just $45 for both members and non-members alike. However, the planned Tour de Taste scheduled for next month as been postponed, with the date to be determined.

And Cannondale is teaming up with Junk Food Clothing to design two urban Bad Boy bikes to be officially unveiled at Antenna Magazine’s ReMix Lab in New York. The art, music, fashion and cultural festival will hit L.A. December 7th through 11th, at a site to be selected.

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My newly bike-riding brother officially announces he’ll be competing in the 2012 Yukon Quest.

With dogs and a sled, not wheels.

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In bike-riding celebrity news, Shia LaBeouf bikes his way back from a barroom beatdown, Gwyneth Paltrow rides through Central Park, and Will and Kate Boris Bike their way through London Town.

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Stephen Box offers a powerful indictment of L.A.’s frequently blocked bike lanes. LADOT explains separated bike lanes, and says the new Commuter Express buses will have triple bike racks. LA Cycle Chic discovers a new upscale bike shop on Venice Blvd. The Path Less Pedaled unveil their new 2012 Calendar; expect Russ’s usual breathtaking photos — and they’re working on new T-shirt and sticker designs to help pay their way to New Zealand for the winter. The Claremont Cyclist looks at last weekend’s Spooky Cross, and finds it spooky, indeed. Redondo Beach votes to approve the proposed South Bay Bike Plan and build it in 12 years rather than 20. Turns out California had a pretty decent bike route system over 100 years ago. Tour de Pink rolled through Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties last weekend. Doing the Furnace Creek 508 by fixie. All it takes to ruin a ride is a good screw. An angry cyclist delays a Bay Area Caltrain.

How slow is too slow for the Slow Bicycle Movement, and how chic do you have to be for cycle chic? The Urban Country explains what, exactly, a Dutch bicycle is. Dave Moulton says don’t be a gutter bunny. An unidentified Oregon drowning victim may have bought his bicycle in La Mesa, CA. Once again, an idiotic radio shock jock tries to boost ratings improve safety by calling for a ban on bikes, this time in Seattle; as long as he’s in the mood to blame the victims, how about ending armed robbery by banning banks and liquor stores? A Salt Lake City news anchor returns to the air eight weeks after being cut off by a hit-and-run driver. The recent Pro Cycling Challenge brought in $83.5 million to the Colorado economy. Oklahoma driver Tausha Borland files an appeal of her 24-year sentence for running down three cyclists, killing two, after drinking and taking pain killers; Witch on a Bicycle calls for respectful letters to the judge considering her appeal. Which one is really the a**hole — the slow cyclist or the impatient driver? No helmets necessary for New York bike share riders. A popular bayfront Brooklyn bike path is a mess; I so know the feeling. A Hudson Valley ninja cyclist is killed; always, always use lights and at least some light-colored or reflective clothing after dark. Politicians on both sides of the aisle agree bikes are cool. Maybe the tide is finally turning when it comes to justice for South Carolina cyclists, if you consider 90 days and five years probation justice. Zeke makes a mess of building a building a bike rack but gets it right eventually. Bike trails pump $42 million into the Central Florida economy; link via Baltimore Spokes. A fatal Florida hit-and-run may have been homicide, or maybe not.

Almost inevitably, fashion designers discover the bicycle. Not all bike racers ride marvels of modern science. Should corporate manslaughter charges be filed when known road defects cause bike or pedestrian fatalities? A new online photo library will offer free images of happy cyclists and positive infrastructure. A UK town provides bike lockers to protect local’s rides. A Sussex cyclist is deliberately assaulted with a jeep after asking the driver to kindly get off the sidewalk. Lancashire police are cracking down on bike theft, but does anyone ride with proof of ownership? Feast your eyes on next year’s official time-trial heavy route for the Tour de France. Riding two-way bike lanes on Vienna’s one-way streets. Copenhagen Cycle Chic on the five senses of cycling. Two Moscow cops run down a rider after getting drunk on the job. When a toddler is run down by a Chinese hit-and-run driver, bystanders just walk around — or drive over — the child.

Finally, even a clown can be a victim of bike theft. But at least they get it back. And look for a tongue-in-cheek — among other places — parody of the popular Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. But it may not be a bike he’ll be riding this time.


Make that nine — yet another bike rider shot and killed, this time in Pico Rivera

October 18, 2011

My apologies.

I just don’t have it in me to write about yet another bike death, the third one in the last three days. And the second fatal early morning shooting in two days, following the solo riding death of Mark Leones on Sunday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the cyclist was shot while riding at the intersection of Harrell Drive and Layman Avenue in Pico Rivera at 1:25 am Tuesday. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune identifies the victim as 33-year old Juan Z. Gutierrez of Whittier. According to the Tribune, the motive and suspects are still unknown.

This shooting took place less than 10 miles from the previous night’s shooting in Downey.

Gutierrez is the 9th person to be shot and killed while riding a bike in Southern California this year, and the 8th in Los Angeles County.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

My sympathies to Gutierrez’ family and loved ones.

And please, dear God, don’t let anyone else get killed riding a bike this week. Or at all, ever again.

Please.


19-year old Downey man fatally shot while riding his bike; 8th fatal SoCal bike shooting this year

October 18, 2011

This has got to stop.

According to the Downey Beat, a 19-year old man was shot to death while riding his bike in Downey early Monday morning.

The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found bleeding in the street on Earnshaw Avenue near the intersection with Prichard Street around 3 am. Police report few clues and no witnesses; the site reports that it’s currently unknown if he was shot from a passing car or because of a dispute, or for some other reason.

Despite the lack of public ID, the victim was clearly well known in the neighborhood, described as friendly man and a good barber who gave haircuts to local residents.

This is the eight shooting victim killed while riding a bike this year, and the seventh in the County of Los Angeles. That compares with 59 cyclists killed in traffic-related collision since the first of the year.

He may not have been targeted because he rode a bike. But the loss of a young man who hadn’t even seen his 20th birthday is every bit as tragic.

And just as much a waste.

My sympathies to the victim’s family and friends.

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Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields, who was recently sentenced to seven years in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old Pacoima cyclist Danny Marin, has filed an appeal of his conviction.

Wheels reports that the appeal was filed the same day Fields changed his plea. There’s no basis given, but it’s a safe bet that it hinges on the defense’s motion to have almost all the evidence tossed for lack of probable cause in entering Field’s home to make the arrest, which was denied by the judge.

Fields was sentenced to 2 years for the vehicular manslaughter charge, plus five for the hit-and-run, as well as ordered to pay $10,515 in restitution to the victim’s family.

He is now confined in the North Kern Prison, where he can expect to spend at least the next three-plus years with good behavior.


Update — 28-year old Costa Mesa cyclist dies in solo Laguna Beach collision

October 16, 2011

Very few details are available yet.

However, the Orange County Register reports that 28-year old Mark Leones of Costa Mesa apparently lost control on a steep downhill and crashed in a solo bicycle collision.

The wreck occurred on Park Avenue in Laguna Beach shortly after 11 am; Leones reportedly died on route to the hospital. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

Leones is the 59th cyclist confirmed to have died as a result of a bicycling collision in Southern California this year, compared to 55 in each of the last two years on record. He is also the eighth fatality in Orange County since the first of the year, and the 6th to die in a solo collision throughout SoCal this year.

My deepest sympathy to his family and loved ones.

More information when it becomes available.

Update: Still very little information on this wreck. Laguna Beach Patch reports that Leones fell on the 1900 block of Park Avenue. Commenters on Slowtwitch.com described the location as a steep downhill with a nearly 20% grade where riders can easily reach very high speeds; combined with the sweeping curves in that section of roadway, that can present a very dangerous combination that demands a high level of skill from a rider. 

If anyone has more information, please let me know.

Update: The Orange County Register offers a nice profile of Leones, explaining who he was, as well as how he died.


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