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  1. #1
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    Who has the right-of-way

    For kicks, I followed the link in Helmet Head’s signature to a Wiki entry on VC and in the Looking Back section found the following: "Most Effective Cycling students confirm that they are surprised to learn how quickly motorists often yield the right-of-way when they try the look back signaling technique for the first time."

    In the context of vehicles following behind me, I've always thought that I had the right-of-way, on both left and right turns, and the motorist is merely yielding any desire they might have to run me over i.e. not yielding anything at all.

    In the case of a left turn, where I need to cross to the center of the road and if necessary come to a stop, then any following vehicles have a duty to either stop or negotiate a safe passage around me. Anyone that cannot stop is either driving too fast for conditions or tailgating.

    Maybe this should be a poll - who is gutsy enough to stop in the center of the road when turning left, especially when there is no center turn lane.
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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Please not another poll... Frankly I tend to agree with you... that those behind us have the reponsibility.

    However... "behind you" is a relative term when sharing lanes, or when moving laterally (to make a turn) as you are now moving into a location where there was nothing before...

    Consider this. While a motorist does have responsibilty to watch out for traffic directly in front, if another motorist suddenly changed lanes in front of the first motorist, would the lane changing motorist be allowed to get off scott free?

    Maybe... or they may be handed a reckless driving ticket.

    In the case of autos however, there was a clear delineation based on different lanes... that case may not exist in the case of cyclists sharing lanes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    In the context of vehicles following behind me, I've always thought that I had the right-of-way, on both left and right turns, and the motorist is merely yielding any desire they might have to run me over i.e. not yielding anything at all.
    Are you saying that you believe that if you are riding on the right side of a 2-lane road (one lane each way), and approaching, say, a mid-block driveway across the street into which you intend to turn left, any faster traffic behind you (postioned to pass you soon on your left) is obliged to yield to you as you turn left in front of them? If so, do you believe they are obliged to do so even if you don't signal, or are they only obliged to do so if you signal first?

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Yielding to a vehicle merging into a lane is a voluntary gesture, signal or no signal. Turning your head merely signals your intent. Once the merging vehicle is in the lane, the vehicle behind needs to yield to the vehicle in front.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I agree with Brian, except I would say turning your head (or using an arm signal) merely signals your request, rather than your intent. I like "request" over "intent" because it emphasizes that signalling is not only communicating what you are going to do, it's also communicating what you are asking the permission of others to do. Now, if there is no one to ask, then you can just do it of course.

    I think the distinction is particularly important to make in a cycling forum because I see so many cyclists, including perhaps the OP, not appreciate this distinction.

    The underlying principle is that one is not allowed to change his line of travel if doing so will interfere with someone else's right of way (unless you signal and they agree to yield that ROW to you).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Are you saying that you believe that if you are riding on the right side of a 2-lane road (one lane each way), and approaching, say, a mid-block driveway across the street into which you intend to turn left, any faster traffic behind you (postioned to pass you soon on your left) is obliged to yield to you as you turn left in front of them? If so, do you believe they are obliged to do so even if you don't signal, or are they only obliged to do so if you signal first?
    A mid-block driveway is an excellent example - assume that I am on a 2 lane road, both lanes are wide enough for vehicles to easily pass without slowing down, speed limit is 30, I am riding as far right as possible, I have looked back over my left shoulder and I am signaling a desire to turn left.

    I am arguing that the first driver to see my signal (which should equate to that of the first vehicle behind me) has a duty to slow down and or stop if necessary. They do not have right-of-way.

    Obviously departing from a bike lane to facilitate a left turn into a driveway makes things less certain – for example does leaving a bike lane constitute a lane change per se? Personally I am 50:50 on this one. Actually even if one considers it a lane change, it is still within the realm of VC. We would really be talking about a pair of actions, one lane change and one left turn. But lets keep bike lanes out of this one.

    My query stems more from a “you are taking the lane” so how does someone behind “yield right-of-way”?

    I think the sentence I quoted from the wiki entry is erroneous.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    I am arguing that the first driver to see my signal (which should equate to that of the first vehicle behind me) has a duty to slow down and or stop if necessary. They do not have right-of-way.
    Exactly wrong. If there is a bike lane, then it is clear that you are the one changing lanes, so you are the one who has the responsibility to yield to the car coming up from behind in the adjacent lane. If there is no bike lane, than it is still your responsibility to yield, since you are to the right of traffic that you are allowing to pass.

    BTW, I'm not sure where in the Portland area you are, but I have seen signs near the Sherwood/Tualitan/Tigard area which mark the bike lane with the diamond reserved for marking special use lanes (such as the HOV lane on I-5 leading into Vancouver). This says to me that the bike lane should be regarded as a lane; thus a merge into the traffic lane from the bike lane will be a lane change, forcing you to yield from cars coming from behind.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I agree with Brian, except I would say turning your head (or using an arm signal) merely signals your request, rather than your intent. I like "request" over "intent" because it emphasizes that signalling is not only communicating what you are going to do, it's also communicating what you are asking the permission of others to do. Now, if there is no one to ask, then you can just do it of course.

    I think the distinction is particularly important to make in a cycling forum because I see so many cyclists, including perhaps the OP, not appreciate this distinction.

    The underlying principle is that one is not allowed to change his line of travel if doing so will interfere with someone else's right of way (unless you signal and they agree to yield that ROW to you).
    "Perhaps" notwithstanding, if your preference is not to turn this into a flame fest, you would be best advised to severely limit your assumptions with regard to my appreciations!

    When I am taking the lane and indicate a desire to turn left I am most certainly not "asking the permission of others" that are behind me. I also do not expect traffic flowing in the opposite direction to stop and yield their right-of-way, unless the traffic is particularly heavy and slow moving, in which case the inconvenience would be nonexistent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    A mid-block driveway is an excellent example - assume that I am on a 2 lane road, both lanes are wide enough for vehicles to easily pass without slowing down, speed limit is 30, I am riding as far right as possible, I have looked back over my left shoulder and I am signaling a desire to turn left.

    I am arguing that the first driver to see my signal (which should equate to that of the first vehicle behind me) has a duty to slow down and or stop if necessary. They do not have right-of-way.
    No way. Forget bikes for a second. Say you're driving a car in the same situation, slow down to make your left into the mid-block driveway, signal, and turn, colliding with a same-direction car that you did not notice was passing you on your left. Whose fault is it? Yours. You violated his right-of-way.

    Someone behind you has an obligation to not collide with you, but if they can safely pass you on your left, assuming you will maintain your course, they have the right-of-way to do so, and it is on you to make sure that you do not violate that right-of-way before you start your lateral move, much less a full-blown turn.

    I'm really glad you started this thread, which explains behavior that I've seen all too often, and could not quite understand. That is, a cyclist riding along the right, does a very brief look back, signals, and just goes, without ever making sure that the driver of the vehicle behind them has yielded the space in front of his vehicle.

    You have the right-of-way to continue in the space in front of you, as long as doing so does not collide with someone in front of you. If you want to change from your course, you need to yield to whomever this might affect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Exactly wrong. If there is a bike lane, then it is clear that you are the one changing lanes, so you are the one who has the responsibility to yield to the car coming up from behind in the adjacent lane. If there is no bike lane, than it is still your responsibility to yield, since you are to the right of traffic that you are allowing to pass.

    BTW, I'm not sure where in the Portland area you are, but I have seen signs near the Sherwood/Tualitan/Tigard area which mark the bike lane with the diamond reserved for marking special use lanes (such as the HOV lane on I-5 leading into Vancouver). This says to me that the bike lane should be regarded as a lane; thus a merge into the traffic lane from the bike lane will be a lane change, forcing you to yield from cars coming from behind.
    Brian, you are the one that has introduced the bike lane (into the maneuver), read carefully above and you will see that my mention of bike lanes is a digression from my main point. You also appear to be introducing a contradiction; if vehicles passing me from the rear have right-of-way, how can I also be “allowing them to pass”?
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    HoustonB, first you say you're riding as far right as possible, then you say you're taking the lane. Which is it? Those are very different situations.

    But even if you're taking the lane in a centerish position, you must yield to someone who may legitimately be passing you on your left before you veer from your line of travel. Of course, you can veer a foot or two, because anyone passing you should be doing so with a safe passing distance, generally considered to be about about 3 feet. But if you're going to move laterally more than a foot or two, simply signalling does not automatically give you the right to do so, nor does it require anyone behind you to yield to you. They still have the right to pass you on the left, if it's safe and reasonable to do so, and you're required to yield to them (you're not allowed to turn in front of someone who is passing you just because you signalled before you turned).

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    ...I am riding as far right as possible, ...
    If there is no bike lane, than it is still your responsibility to yield, since you are to the right of traffic that you are allowing to pass.
    if vehicles passing me from the rear have right-of-way, how can I also be “allowing them to pass”?
    By choosing to ride as far right as possible, you are yielding the right of way to those behind you in the lane space to your left. It is not unreasonable to describe this situation as "allowing them to pass" (within the same lane that you are in).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    No way. Forget bikes for a second. Say you're driving a car in the same situation, slow down to make your left into the mid-block driveway, signal, and turn, colliding with a same-direction car that you did not notice was passing you on your left. Whose fault is it? Yours. You violated his right-of-way.

    Someone behind you has an obligation to not collide with you, but if they can safely pass you on your left, assuming you will maintain your course, they have the right-of-way to do so, and it is on you to make sure that you do not violate that right-of-way before you start your lateral move, much less a full-blown turn.

    I'm really glad you started this thread, which explains behavior that I've seen all too often, and could not quite understand. That is, a cyclist riding along the right, does a very brief look back, signals, and just goes, without ever making sure that the driver of the vehicle behind them has yielded the space in front of his vehicle.

    You have the right-of-way to continue in the space in front of you, as long as doing so does not collide with someone in front of you. If you want to change from your course, you need to yield to whomever this might affect.
    Dang, I am amazed! If I am driving a car, and come to a halt to facilitate a left turn that I am indicating, and someone crosses to the other side of the road (into the lane used by traffic flowing in the opposite direction) in order to overtake me, then I am very sorry, the resulting accident is 100% their responsibility. I seriously cannot believe I am reading some of the posts on here about vehicles approaching from the rear having right-of-way you and Brian are both raging bonkers. Am I now in the twilight zone – I think I need to up my meds!
    Last edited by HoustonB; 03-01-06 at 07:11 PM.
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    Ok guys, this might help - a very slow moving truck climbing a steep hill gets to the end of a slow-moving-lane and needs to move back into the regular lane; does the truck have right-of-way?

    I'm starting to really hate ambiguity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    No way. Forget bikes for a second. Say you're driving a car in the same situation, slow down to make your left into the mid-block driveway, signal, and turn, colliding with a same-direction car that you did not notice was passing you on your left. Whose fault is it? Yours. You violated his right-of-way.
    Well, in a car, if there is a solid yellow line on the roadway and a vehicle passes me on the left as I'm turning left while signaling, they are at fault if there is a collision.


    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    ...who is gutsy enough to stop in the center of the road when turning left, especially when there is no center turn lane.
    Being gutsy and having right of way are two different things. What's that old adage? Many tombstones could be engraved with "But I had Right of Way"...

    I always combine the head turn with an arm signal, and only make the move if I have adequate space relative to the speed of the traffic behind me. I do something safer if the conditions aren't good. The challenge is making it possible in the most intelligent way. I don't trust any driver to understand their "duty to either stop or negotiate a safe passage around me."

    If you have established your postion in the lane, and you are signaling your intent, you have right of way in regards to the traffic behind you. You still have to yield to oncoming traffic of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Say you're driving a car in the same situation, slow down to make your left into the mid-block driveway, signal, and turn, colliding with a same-direction car that you did not notice was passing you on your left. Whose fault is it? Yours. You violated his right-of-way.
    You have the signal occurring after the maneuver has begun! I was taught Mirror, Signal, and then finally Maneuver (it's a British thing). If you signal after you have already started the maneuver then I suggest a few hours of drivers-ed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by * jack *
    Well, in a car, if there is a solid yellow line on the roadway and a vehicle passes me on the left as I'm turning left while signaling, they are at fault if there is a collision.

    Being gutsy and having right of way are two different things. What's that old adage? Many tombstones could be engraved with "But I had Right of Way"...

    I always combine the head turn with an arm signal, and only make the move if I have adequate space relative to the speed of the traffic behind me. I do something safer if the conditions aren't good. The challenge is making it possible in the most intelligent way. I don't trust any driver to understand their "duty to either stop or negotiate a safe passage around me."

    If you have established your postion in the lane, and you are signaling your intent, you have right of way in regards to the traffic behind you. You still have to yield to oncoming traffic of course.
    Finally, someone I can agree with. Obviously, since I am still compos mentis, I have not overly asserted my right-of-way.
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    Obviously there is a lot of confusion here... and in a shared lane situation there are indeed questions.

    If, as the OP originally stated, you, a cyclist, are sharing a lane with motor traffic, and you are to the right, but ahead of the nearest vehicle... who has ROW? There is one lane... you are in front.

    Now as you (on a bicycle) desire to move from right to left in the same lane, within the same lane stripes, who has responsibility to yield to whom? Still one lane, you are still in front.

    Frankly I have always assumed that anytime I am changing my lane position, I should check, signal and then move. But if I am in the same lane as someone else, but in front... do they have the legal responsibility to watch for me? Who is yielding ROW?

    Now asking the same questions, but add a bike lane stripe. Suddenly it becomes very clear that I am changing lanes if I chose to move out of a Bike Lane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by *jack*
    Well, in a car, if there is a solid yellow line on the roadway and a vehicle passes me on the left as I'm turning left while signaling, they are at fault if there is a collision.
    Well, of course, if there is a solid yellow line on the roadway. But why throw that wrench into the bag? Say the dividing line is dashed (passing is clearly allowed, just as it is within a same direction lane).


    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Say you're driving a car in the same situation, slow down to make your left into the mid-block driveway, signal, and turn, colliding with a same-direction car that you did not notice was passing you on your left. Whose fault is it? Yours. You violated his right-of-way.
    You have the signal occurring after the maneuver has begun!
    No I don't. I signal the slowing down maneuver (yes, I presumed the brake lights work) with my car's brake lights. I signaled the turn with a turn signal before I begin the turn.

    What you're trying to say is that if you're slowing down in order to turn, you should start signaling before you begin to slow down. Maybe it's a good idea. But it's not required.

    In any case, you have to yield to anyone passing you on the left before you turn left.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    Now asking the same questions, but add a bike lane stripe. Suddenly it becomes very clear that I am changing lanes if I chose to move out of a Bike Lane.
    Let's not turn this into yet another bike lane debate, but I have to admit that HoustonB's confusion has added some credibility to the argument that an advantage of bike lane stripes is that they make it clearer to the cyclist that he must yield the ROW to faster traffic coming from behind before merging left.

    On the other hand, it can be argued that anyone who does not understand the need to yield the ROW to passing traffic before merging in front of them when there is no stripe, is likely to not understand it even when there is a stripe. HoustonB's comments also support this: "Obviously departing from a bike lane to facilitate a left turn into a driveway makes things less certain – for example does leaving a bike lane constitute a lane change per se? Personally I am 50:50 on this one."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Well, of course, if there is a solid yellow line on the roadway. But why throw that wrench into the bag? Say the dividing line is dashed (passing is clearly allowed, just as it is within a same direction lane).

    No I don't. I signal the slowing down maneuver (yes, I presumed the brake lights work) with my car's brake lights. I signaled the turn with a turn signal before I begin the turn.

    What you're trying to say is that if you're slowing down in order to turn, you should start signaling before you begin to slow down. Maybe it's a good idea. But it's not required.

    In any case, you have to yield to anyone passing you on the left before you turn left.
    Oh yes you do (this is getting to be a little too much like Monty Python). You clearly have "slowing down" prior to "signal". And yes, I am arguing that the brake lights coming on is not part of the signal that indicates the true intent (the left turn) and furthermore that the turn signal should come on before you start to brake - that is how I drive, and I believe it is the law. Unless I am very much mistaken, the Oregon driving code actually states a minimum distance for turn signals.

    How about we all write to our respective DOT’s and find out the various official positions, since opinions here are clearly polar opposites?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    I agree with Brian, except I would say turning your head (or using an arm signal) merely signals your request, rather than your intent. I like "request" over "intent" because it emphasizes that signalling is not only communicating what you are going to do, it's also communicating what you are asking the permission of others to do.
    I don't think turning your head constitutes a request. It's simply a look. If it's mis-interpreted as a request or even a signal, then I say it's time to get a mirror. (And yes, I know you use one Serge).

    An arm signal is a declaration of intent. It is not a request. Turn on your left turn signal on the freeway and see how long you wait for your "request" to be granted. No, it's a signal of your intent, which you will carry out as soon as you feel it is safe. People may opt to defer your dream, or they may help you fulfill it. But either way it's not a request.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Let's not turn this into yet another bike lane debate, but I have to admit that HoustonB's confusion has added some credibility to the argument that an advantage of bike lane stripes is that they make it clearer to the cyclist that he must yield the ROW to faster traffic coming from behind before merging left.

    On the other hand, it can be argued that anyone who does not understand the need to yield the ROW to passing traffic before merging in front of them when there is no stripe, is likely to not understand it even when there is a stripe. HoustonB's comments also support this: "Obviously departing from a bike lane to facilitate a left turn into a driveway makes things less certain – for example does leaving a bike lane constitute a lane change per se? Personally I am 50:50 on this one."
    Your selective quoting is misleading. I go on to say that departing the bike lane and the left turn into the drive way are really TWO actions, they are distinct. I have never and will never blindly swing from the right curb to the left curb. Any insinuation from you to the contrary will be refuted in the strongest fashion possible.

    Your nit-picking is incredible – in my original post I have taken exception to a single sentence in a wiki article, I do not have any references to “as far right as possible” or “taking the lane”. These have appeared as a consequence of my attempting to simultaneously state a less ambiguous scenario to two different posters. There appears to be no satisfying you.

    According to you I am “confused” and “does not understand the need to yield the ROW” – actually neither of these is valid. If you said “probably getting quite irate” you would be much closer to the truth.
    Last edited by HoustonB; 03-01-06 at 08:13 PM.
    LOL The End is Nigh (for 80% of middle class North Americans) - I sneer in their general direction.

  24. #24
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Let's not turn this into yet another bike lane debate, but I have to admit that HoustonB's confusion has added some credibility to the argument that an advantage of bike lane stripes is that they make it clearer to the cyclist that he must yield the ROW to faster traffic coming from behind before merging left.

    On the other hand, it can be argued that anyone who does not understand the need to yield the ROW to passing traffic before merging in front of them when there is no stripe, is likely to not understand it even when there is a stripe.
    How does one yield the ROW if one is in front to begin with... look again at what I asked.

    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    If, as the OP originally stated, you, a cyclist, are sharing a lane with motor traffic, and you are to the right, but ahead of the nearest vehicle... who has ROW? There is one lane... you are in front.

    Now as you (on a bicycle) desire to move from right to left in the same lane, within the same lane stripes, who has responsibility to yield to whom? Still one lane, you are still in front.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonB
    Your selective quoting is misleading. I go on to say that departing the bike lane and the left turn into the drive way are really TWO actions, they are distinct.
    Sorry I wasn't clear. I left out the part about departing the bike lane and the left turn being TWO distinct actions because that was irrelevant to the point I was making: that you don't seem to realize that making any lateral movement requires yielding the ROW to anyone approaching from behind into the space into which you wish to move laterally, and that signalling first make no difference to this.


    I have never and will never blindly swing from the right curb to the left curb. Any insinuation from you to the contrary will be refuted in the strongest fashion possible.
    I have never claimed or insinuated that you have or would ever swing blindly from curb to curb.


    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    How does one yield the ROW if one is in front to begin with... look again at what I asked.
    One yields the ROW to travel in the adjacent space into which he wishes to move laterally to those approaching from behind into that space, that's how one yields the ROW if one is in front to begin with. The same principle applies whether you're moving from the right lane to one lane to the left on the freeway, or whether you're moving over four feet on your bike from the right side of the road near the curb to the right tire track of the lane.

    You can't just signal and move. And just signalling, as Diane points out is often ineffective on the freeway, does not obligate anyone to accomodate your request.

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