Monday, November 30, 2009

"You are a sad and angry old man..."

This is pretty stupid stuff, Shawn [his comment below in italics] and long-winded, too. As I've said before, my strictures don't apply to all cyclists, though, at the very least, they certainly do to a large minority of cyclists, given the awful behavior I witness every day on city streets. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't, what's the problem?

I have more than "vitriol to spew" on this blog---though I do indeed spew some of that. I'm the only one in the city media to pay attention to what the bike movement and its enablers in City Hall are trying to do to our streets. I read the Bicycle Plan, the EIR on the Plan, all the traffic and bike reports put out by MTA and then comment on it all on this blog, which is more than you can say for anyone else in SF, including all the progressive blogs. Can't take it? Then don't read my blog.

Good intentions are not enough. The many exhibitionist demos and activities on city streets are more or less "benign," but when you start redesigning city streets to cater to a small minority of bike "activists," you go too far. (I don't think Critical Mass is benign, however, since it screws up traffic for people trying to get home from work, including Muni passengers, and it costs city taxpayers $10,000 a month for the police escort.) The city would have saved a lot of money and time if it had simply followed the law in the first place and done an EIR on the Bicycle Plan. If our litigation was nothing but a "tantrum," why didn't the court just throw it out? The answer: we had the law and the facts on our side, and the city was in gross violation of the most important environmental law in California.

I know what's not going to solve Muni's on-time problems---implementing the Bicycle Plan on, for example, Second Street, Fifth Street, Cesar Chavez, etc., which as the EIR tells us, is going to delay Muni lines on those and other streets in the city. "Significant unavoidable impacts" is the exact phrase the EIR uses to describe the Plan's impacts on city streets and Muni. You did read---or at least look at---the EIR didn't you, Shawn? Why do I suspect that you, like every other bike "activist" in the city, didn't bother to do that basic homework? There's nothing in your windy comment to indicate that you have any specific knowledge of anything we're discussing.
I don't doubt your sincerity, but, like good intentions, it's not enough. I'm taking your view into consideration, Shawn, and, like your previous comments, I find it lacking in substance. On civility: if someone insults me, I often reply in kind. Why should I take shit from you and your comrades? If you don't like my opinions or the way I express them, tough shit. If you're really interested in this issue, why don't you inform yourself?

"You're just a sad and angry old man sucking on the government teat and using the legal system to antagonize people who piss you off because they're not as sad and angry as you are."
Ad hominem attack, anyone? I'm neither sad nor angry, actually, though I am pretty old. You seem to be the one who's angry. Again, we had the facts and the law on our side in our successful litigation. Your side---the city---was caught flagrantly violating an important law, which they apparently assumed they could get away with. It really was an attempted coup on behalf of a militant minority of bike fanatics.

Yes, I know you want to change the law so that bicycle plans don't have to do traffic studies before they screw up traffic. And I understand that you and your comrades think that whatever you want to do to our streets is an "improvement," but it aint necessarily so, Shawn. The ultimate judge of what you and the bike fanatics are able to do to our streets will be the people of San Francisco, who have never had a chance to vote on the Bicycle Plan. And they never will, will they?

Note that the city had to back off on the planned "improvements" on Second Street, when the people who live on that street objected. Note too that Masonic Ave. has been dropped from the priority list, probably because even MTA realizes that screwing up traffic on that major north/south street---not to mention delaying the #43 Muni line---won't be politically sustainable.

Note too that Judge Busch in his decision last week carefully picked low-impact projects from the list the city provided. He evidently understands how high the stakes are for the majority of people in San Franciso, who won't necessarily see screwing up traffic on their streets as an "improvement."

This is about SF progressivism, since city progs seem to care more about bicycles than they do about the other issues I write about, like homelessness, the Market/Octavia Plan, UC's hijacking the old extension property on Haight Street, etc. Funny how I often get comments when I write about the bicycle fantasy but rarely get any when I write about terrible development projects that are going to degrade the city for generations. The Bay Guardian has a full-time reporter who writes reams about bicycles but they somehow never get around to writing about the awful Market/Octavia Plan---pushed by Supervisor Mirkairmi, the Bicycle Coalition's favorite supervisor, not coincidentally---that rezones more than 4,000 properties in the heart of the city to encourage population density there, including 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness! The Bicycle Coalition supports the M/O Plan, by the way, apparently because it restricts the number of parking spaces developers will be allowed in new housing projects.

Shawn Allen wrote:

This isn't about "progressivism", Rob. Most people don't give a rat's ass about "saving the planet" or making some sort of political statement. Do all the Latino men riding their bikes to and from work in the Mission identify as "progressive"? Of course not; they're just looking for a cheap and practical way to get around the city. Is everyone in this city—let alone on a bike—"mindless" and "unreflective"? What a ridiculous assertion. I don't automatically assume that everyone behind the wheel of a car is as ignorant or stupid. In fact, most people in this city are perfectly respectful if you give them the chance to be. You, on the other hand, have nothing but vitriol to spew, and it's a shame that any reasonable discussion about the bike plan in which you take part inevitably devolves into another episode of Rob Anderson's Ad Hominem Culture War.
You think it's silly for twenty-somethings to "work on their mommy and daddy issues on the streets"? That seems a lot more benign to me than one antisocial old man acting out his political temper tantrum in the courts to the tune of over $1 million in costs to the city and over 4 years' delay of infrastructure intended to improve personal mobility and public safety. Muni is in the hole and has recently raised fares while simultaneously cutting service. The city's busiest lines, which service a sizable portion of its commuting population, are routinely late, uncomfortably overcrowded, or both. Do you, an aspiring politician, have some ideas about how to solve some of the many transportation-related issues this city faces? Because all I've ever heard from you is violent defense of the status quo. No wonder you so despise "progressives"—you're not really interested in progress at all.

I'm going to quote one of the first entries from this blog in the hopes that you take your own words to heart: "If you can't concede that your political opponents are sincere in their beliefs and actions, you are essentially dehumanizing them: they are simply Evil and no longer part of a civil dialogue. Just as important, you tend to then indulge in a self-righteousness that corrodes your own political sensibilities. Something like this psychological process seems to underly a lot of political and religious fanaticism."

Cyclists (or "progressives") don't have a monopoly on self-righteousness, Rob. Your complete unwillingness to take anyone else's view prevents a civil discourse from taking place. It's clear from the way you talk down to anyone who disagrees with you that you don't give a shit about anyone else.

You're just a sad and angry old man sucking on the government teat and using the legal system to antagonize people who piss you off because they're not as sad and angry as you are. It may take new leadership in City Hall, the Planning Department, and the City Attorney's office to fix the mistakes made by our current administration. It may take changing CEQA to ensure that nuisance challenges like yours don't hold up similar improvements elsewhere in California. But the history of bikes in San Francisco will be written by the victors, and we'll be here a long time after you're dead and gone.

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At 2:49 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"I'm the only one in the city media"

Sad, angry, old and suffering from delusions of grandeur. Your blog is not part of "the city media". The only people reading it are missiondweller and a bunch of people who thing you are a sad and angry old man.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And then there's you, Murph, an arrogant asshole who, in spite of the manifest ignorance in every comment you make, mysteriously thinks he knows something about anything. Have you read Judge Busch's latest decision yet?

At 4:03 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I pay Dennis Herrera good money to read it for me.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I doubt that Herrera has read it; that's why he has Assistant District Attorneys. But the decision itself is only two pages, with a six-page declaration by a traffic engineer containing the city's wish-list of projects. It's just odd that we're supposed to take your comments seriously, but you refuse to make the effort to inform yourself.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

+1 for people who read this because they think you're a sad and angry old man.

Rob, care to put a poll on here to find out why people really follow your blog?

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The "sad and lonely old man" trope is nothing but a pathetic red herring by people who are unable to come to grips with the issues, not to mention that I've never met these people. Notice how the "sad" usage has crept into common currency? It's nothing but a poorly disguised ad hominem attack. Being a progressive means never having to be sad.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Lex said...

Considering that the judge keeps ruling in Rob's favor, I'll bet he's a pretty happy guy. It's amazing that all of the posters making ad hominem attacks refuse to address the fact Rob keeps winning on the *merits* of his position.

When people don't have logic on their side they resort to cheap shots.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You talk a lot about bikes 'screwing up traffic', but you never talk about how cars screw up bike traffic to the point that it barely exists.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was trying to get from Barneys to Saks 5th Ave on Black Friday evening and it took me 25 minutes to cross the street because of Critical Mass that the lamestream media was silent about. The cyclists didn't even care that I was trying to save the economy!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Fergie said...

Of course, you've read this right Rob?

Page 9: 16% of S.F. residents ride their bicycle 2 or more times a week. 128,000 bike trips a day, 6% of all trips in S.F. I think you should rename your group 'Eighty Two Percent' if you want to be factually accurate.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That was the survey the city took during Bike to Work Day in 2008. Even the firm they hired to do the survey was uncomfortable with that methodology, as their recommendation for improving the surveys tells us on page "Re-evaluate the decision to conduct intercept surveys on Bike to Work Day." (page 23)

Given the excessive zeal MTA and City Hall has shown on the bicycle issue in recent years, I'm also skeptical of the annual counts the city does every August. I simply don't believe that the SFBC and the bike people don't know the exact date these counts are done and call out the troops to inflate the count.

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That bicycle lanes and improvements have been held up for years by your absurd notion that they would somehow create more pollution is criminal. You are a menace to the good people of San Francisco. Please go back to wherever you came from. -Mark

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rob

This whole bike plan is insane.

Have you seen Scott Street between Oak Street and Fell Street?

What the hell is that? 2 bike lanes going in the same direction. One is a left turn lane in the middle of the street for a whole block.

The same monkey who invented the Octavia/Market Street mess must have worked overtime on this one. Who are these people?

Will this lane stop the bike riders from making the illegal left that they always did before? Nope just makes them do it more with their bike lane down the middle of the street.

Don't be surprised when more bikes get crunched by cars legally turning left onto Scott Street from Fell Street. lawsuit?

Plus they removed the left turn lane from Scott to Fell for the cars which will create more overflow into the bike lanes plus confusion for drivers.

All the bike people think the lanes are all so cool, wait until the city starts taxing them to pay for these brilliant ideas.

BIKE TAX 2010!!!!! It is coming.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

I support what Rob is saying and doing. Cars will always be the dominant mode of transit for most people in SF. Biking will remain a minor mode. That's the way it is.

Bike riders need to begin to obey ALL traffic laws..period.

Tax the bikers if they want more lanes.

Yea, I dont like murphstahoe either; he's a real nut job on other sites as well.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, it's strange that he feels compelled to comment on this blog, even though he never seems to read any of the documents cited. It's a weird sort of entitlement, the desire to have one say and be taken seriously yet unwilling to do the minimum amount of reading or thinking to have anything worthwhile to say.

The larger issue: the trivialization of the left by today's "progressives." Back in the Sixties we had the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the push for gay rights, the womens' movement. City progs seem most concerned with---wait for it---bicycles!

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that Shawn would make a comment like this about Mr Anderson. He's been proven right by the courts.

Case law across the country supports him. For example there is this case , and this case

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, rocky's dad. Since transportation is now winner-take-all, we should probably get rid of BART, Caltrain, and Muni, since those will never be the dominant form of transportation. Let's pull up the sidewalks, too, since fewer people walk to work than drive.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

@anon9:31pm: it's not an either/or situation. all of these modes of transit have to exist together..but, trust me...most people of all ages and incomes will suddenly not use bikes to go about their daily business ALL THE TIME. just not gonna happen...I like my car, I like to walk sometimes, I like taking public transit sometime..that's reality. get used to it..

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

Oh wow, I get my own blog post. Thanks, Rob!

As I've said before, my strictures don't apply to all cyclists, though, at the very least, they certainly do to a large minority of cyclists

A "large minority" is kind of an oxymoron. "If the shoe fits, wear it"? If we're talking shoes of antisocial behavior, you should check out drivers at the intersection of 16th and Mission, which I look down on each day from my desk at work. Neither you nor your buddy Lex ever did respond to my comment pointing out how ridiculous it is to scorn cyclists for their "bad behavior" when motorists are just as guilty of traffic violations as your "large minority" of cyclists, and how silly it is to single them out when they're relatively harmless compared to motor vehicles.

My point isn't that cyclists should be allowed to break the law (I indiscriminately dress down cyclists, drivers and pedestrians who do stupid things in the streets), but that being so vocally indignant about cyclists alone is obviously indicative of bias. Anyone who says that cyclists should be denied infrastructure based on their behavior clearly has a bone to pick, because by that logic we should be taking away infrastructure from drivers who continually put everyone else on the road in danger by speeding, running lights, failing to stop at stop signs or give right of way to pedestrians, etc. If you think that a cyclist doing these things is any ruder or more irresponsible than a motorist then just you're a bigot.

("Bike tax"? Please. The amount of money that cyclists save the healthcare and insurance systems by getting regular exercise more than pay for our measly "share" of the road—not to mention the sales and income taxes that we all pay and which are responsible for a significant share of the funds that pay for their construction and maintenance.)

I'm the only one in the city media to pay attention to what the bike movement and its enablers in City Hall are trying to do to our streets.

You're not "in the city media", Rob. You're just some guy with a blog and lots of time on your hands. What the "bike movement" is "trying to do to our streets" isn't as controversial to most people as it is to you because they agree that the good (safer access to a healthier, cheaper, faster, more self-sufficient mode of transportation) outweighs the bad (inconveniencing drivers and slowing down Muni). Or maybe it's not so hard for most people to comprehend the way that mode shifts can affect traffic—e.g., that more people biking means fewer cars on the road (the primary culprit of Muni delays) and fewer riders on our overcrowded buses and trains. I don't think of the Bike Plan as something that should be subject to voter approval because I see it as essential transportation infrastructure, but either way I would welcome the opportunity for it to be debated in a more public forum than on the pages of District 5 Diary and Streetsblog. As I've said on many other occasions, I agree that the city went about packaging it and pushing it through poorly, and they had this whole thing coming. Cycling infrastructure as a general concept, though, certainly hasn't gotten a fair trial in the public eye.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...


I know what's not going to solve Muni's on-time problems---implementing the Bicycle Plan

Do you really know that, Rob? Really? If so, I'm sure the MTA would love a sip of whatever you're drinking. There are only two ways to solve Muni's on-time problems: the first is to improve the service itself; the second is to reduce the number of motor vehicles on the road.

Better cycling infrastructure does the latter and makes the streets safer for everyone. Having more cyclists on the road forces drivers to generally pay better attention (which makes the streets safer for pedestrians, by the way), and it discourages unsafe behavior on cyclists' part. There are plenty of other ways (many interesting ones are cited in here and here) in which cycling improves communities. The ways in which it's changed my own life are numerous, and I'd love other people to experience the same freedom of mobility and joy that I have.

There's no easy "fix" for transportation disfunction in San Francisco. But any reasonable person recognizes the advantages of providing relatively cheap cycling infrastructure to relieve stress on other modes and make their cities safer and healthier places. That you ignore all of these advantages and focus solely on CEQA's "significant unavoidable impacts" speaks volumes on your lack of perspective.

With the notable exception of your successful suit against the city, everything that you've ever said about cycling or the bike plan (and transit in general) is FUD. It's all an elaborate show of bureaucratic wrist-slapping. Have you nothing better to do with your time than harass those evil progs in city government? You don't represent "Ninety-Nine Percent" of the city's residents, or anywhere near it. If you did perhaps you'd tell us who else belongs to your phony "Coalition for Adequate Review".

Funny how I often get comments when I write about the bicycle fantasy but rarely get any when I write about terrible development projects that are going to degrade the city for generations.

They might or they might not, Rob. You can't possibly know for sure. And what's your beef with population density? A lack of population density is what makes San Francisco such a car-dependent city, and a difficult place for which to design cost-effective public transit. I've read most of your posts on the M/O plan, and just don't agree with a single reason for your adamant opposition. Urban density is one of the key factors determining a city's commercial sustainability. Transit corridors are a proven urban design methodology. Unlike any respectable critic, though, you offer no alternative recommendations. You're frightened of anything "progressive" ruining your precious city and remain intent on defending the status quo—no matter how dysfunctional it may be.

At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

One last thing.

My "sad and angry old man" comment is based entirely on the interactions I've had with you on this blog. Everything you say is spiteful and angry, and I just find that kind of sad. I actually feel bad for you because I imagine that it must be hard to find friends in this city full of people who you've written off based on silly assumptions about their political beliefs. That said, if "sad and angry" is the worst thing I've said about you then I can rest easy knowing that I held the high ground in a drawn-out argument with an opponent who often resorts to calling people "assholes", "nuts", or "crackpots" at the slightest provocation. You haven't hurt my feelings; I just think it's lame and immature.

The only reason I've ever read and commented on your blog is that I feel a need to dispel the ridiculous generalizations that you make about cyclists. I've lived in San Francisco for over ten years. I'm a dedicated business owner with two other partners and seven very happy employees, and we're single-handedly responsible for bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy every year. I started riding my bike to work five years ago because it got me to work faster to do so than ride Muni. Over time I became accustomed to riding my bike everywhere because it saved me lots of time, it was fun, and it got me in better shape than I've ever been. It's a practical mode of transportation for me and tens of thousands of other contributing members of society. Fuck you for suggesting that we do it because it's "trendy".

Everything that I have to say about cycling is based on my personal experience. Conversely, very little of what you have to say is informed by personal experience, let alone facts or logic. You give no reason to believe that your words are fueled by anything but your deep-seated bigotry toward "people like me", and your inflammatory remarks unfairly defame thousands of people. We should consider ourselves lucky that yours is the only "consistent voice of critique" against the "bike people". Real critics of transportation infrastructure reform can be reasoned with. You clearly can't.

So I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. Needless to say, you won't see me wasting any more of my time on these pages.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

More long, fact-free comments, Shawn. You have time to compose these comments, but you don't have time to inform yourself about the Bicycle Plan or the EIR.

I've never written or thought that "cyclists should be denied infrastructure." The issue is whether and where traffic lanes and street parking is eliminated to make bike lanes in the city. I understand that, like a lot of your comrades, you want to change the subject to the bad behavior of drivers, but that doesn't help us make these decisions on specific streets.

You can deny that I'm not part of the city's media, but again I'm the only one who's consistently reading the documents and offering a critique of what you and your comrades are trying to do to city streets.

Interesting that you "don't see the Bike Plan as something that should be subject to voter approval." I bet you don't! And I bet Leah Shahum agrees with you, which is why she and the city tried to rush the Plan through the process before people in the neighborhoods knew what was in it.

Again, what's not going to solve Muni's on-time problems is to slow it down by implementing the Plan on busy city streets that have Muni lines, like Second Street, Fifth Street, Cesar Chavez, Masonic Ave., etc. The EIR tells us that the Plan is going to delay Muni lines on those streets. Your assumption that doing that is somehow going to transform many of those who drive motor vehicles into cyclists is supported by no evidence that I know of and seems to be nothing but wishful thinking.

I've never written that city progressives are "evil"; but they aren't very smart, while also being smug and self-satisfied, even though they've screwed up every major city issue, including homelessness, housing, development, immigration, and traffic. We live in what's essentially a one-party town---the progressive party---and that party is doing a terrible job of governing the city, mostly because it's hamstrung intellectually by a delusional ideology that prevents it from seeing the issues clearly.

San Francisco and the Bay Area is already one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Where exactly has the "transit corridors" theory been validated? In any event, we're talking about SF, and, with the M/O Plan, 40-story residential highrises at Market and Van Ness. The Planning code has density limits for neighborhoods for a reason, one of which is that they often don't have the infrasture to handle too many people, which is where our dysfunctional Muni system comes in.

The EIRs on both the M/O and the UC plan don't have serious traffic studies to tell us what the impacts of all those new residents in that area will mean---9,000 under the M/O Plan and another 1,000 at the UC site. Since that area is now virtually gridlocked with all the traffic that's now on Octavia Blvd., adding 10,000 new residents to the area is shockingly bad planning by city progressives.

Finally, more speculation about my personal life in your lengthy, fact-free screed. You have every single, half-baked idea current in progressive SF political circles jammed into your fact-free mind, Shawn. You're right that you're wasting your time with these comments; you'd be better off---and your comments would be a lot better---if for once you did some homework on these subjects before going public with your ignorance.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"@anon9:31pm: it's not an either/or situation. all of these modes of transit have to exist together..but, trust me...most people of all ages and incomes will suddenly not use bikes to go about their daily business ALL THE TIME. just not gonna happen...I like my car, I like to walk sometimes, I like taking public transit sometime..that's reality. get used to it.."

I'm not saying it's either/or, but if we want transit modes to be able to exist together then we first have to provide for them all.

Nobody is talking about biking *all the time*, so we can safely put that in the straw man category. Just like nobody is talking about taking all traffic lanes and turning them into bike lanes or taking all parking spots and turning them into bike racks.

What we're talking about is putting enough stuff on the ground to make biking actually work for the people who want to bike. Shouldn't be a big deal.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"What we're talking about is putting enough stuff on the ground to make biking actually work for the people who want to bike. Shouldn't be a big deal."

But the whole point of the controversy is found in the plans for individual streets. It will become a very "big deal" indeed if the city implements the Bicycle Plan's Fifth Street project, the Second Street project, or the Cesar Chavez project, all of which are going to have "significant impacts" on both regular motor traffic and on Muni lines. You bike advocates understandably fail to even try to come to grips with that reality, instead pretending to be mystified as to why anyone would object to installing more infrastructure for bicycles. It really is a zero-sum game on almost all streets in SF, since there simply isn't enough room on our streets to deal with our normal traffic and parking needs and to take away some of that space on behalf of what is, after all, the transportation choice of a small minority. The unsupported notion that, once bike lanes are installed on busy city streets, it will be retropspectivelhy justified by a sudden blossoming of cycling on those streets is entirely fanciful.

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ou bike advocates understandably fail to even try to come to grips with that reality, instead pretending to be mystified as to why anyone would object to installing more infrastructure for bicycles."

No. The fact is that automobile infrastructure has been over-installed, if you will, and this is an attempt to fix the situation.

And again, it's impossible for it to be a zero-sum game given that bikes and cars have different spatial requirements.

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Shawn Allen

In your case I should have said word tax.

With your diarrhea of the key board the SF budget would have a surplus.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Sophie said...

It's true i don't understand all of the technical, legal and political issues involved in the bike plan. what i do understand is the following:

1. I am a 47 year old woman who rides her bike everyday to commute to work, to buy groceries and to run errands. It's my main form of transportation.

It's dangerous to ride a bike in San Francisco but it's also a lot of fun. I came to this blog because I was trying to understand why it got so complicated to add bike lanes to the city so that bike transportation could be a safer way of getting around.

And I learned that people have different perspectives and are mostly unwilling to compromise.


At 11:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's always going to be more or less dangerous to ride a bike in SF or anywhere else. You represent a small minority, since the overwhelming majority of city dwellers ride the bus or drive. The issue was---and still is---is the city going to redesign our streets to benefit only your minority---taking away traffic lanes and street parking---and screw up traffic for everyone else? It's not a "technical" issue at all. It's nothing but a power play by the bike people, aided and abetted by their PC allies in City Hall. There's not really any compromise available.


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