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  1. #1
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    (LTBL:Chap 1) The Problem: Bike Facilities and One-Eyed Prophets

    http://www.wright.edu/~jeffrey.hiles...ening/ch1.html

    It breaks your heart. You try your best to make the world a better place for bicycling. And what is your worst obstacle? It’s not the entrenched motoring establishment, not skeptical planners and politicians, and not lack of public understanding and support. You find that your stiffest opposition comes from a most disheartening source: other bicycle advocates.

    Different cyclists have different reasons for bicycling and different beliefs about what makes bicycling safe and fun. Some speed through city streets, keeping pace with heavy traffic. Some saunter along village sidewalks. Some prefer to drive their cars to the country or to a trail to ride where traffic is scarce. Some cycle solo, others join clubs and pedal in packs. Some ride for fun and exercise, others just to get somewhere. Being such a mixed lot, bicyclists naturally have their differences over how transportation planning should serve bicycling—and who it should serve.

    Depending on your viewpoint, the Lycra-clad “advanced” cyclists represent the keepers of ultimate knowledge and wisdom about bicycling, or they comprise a cadre of athletic elitists who are out of touch with the wants and needs of the bicycling masses (in so far as there is such a thing as bicycling masses). Adherents of these opposing views have wrangled for decades over what to do, or not do, for bicyclists. The wrangling continues.

    Bruce Epperson (1994), a senior transportation planner in Miami, Florida, says that the “elitists” who oppose facilities such as bike paths and bike lanes selfishly ignore those who need bicycle transportation most:

    Bicycle planning must return to an emphasis on specialized bicycle facilities. In the short and middle-term time frame, this is the critical factor. Only specialized facilities separated from the flow of motor traffic can accommodate the needs and wishes of those who bicycle because it is the only feasible method for them to increase their personal mobility. Safe and comfortable bicycle transportation (and yes, recreation) will be achievable only when the overall transportation system can accommodate cyclists of all abilities and strengths (p. 8).
    If anyone is the voice of opposition to “specialized bicycle facilities,” it’s California engineer and bicyclist-education-manual author John Forester (1994), who disputes the idea that separated facilities are the best way to accommodate cyclists. The desire for bikeways, he contends, springs from a constellation of bogus beliefs and false fears, a kind of phobia even, that he has dubbed the cyclist-inferiority superstition:

    Most bikeways involve roadway prohibitions, encourage dangerous behavior by cyclists and by motorists, are poor to ride upon, and use space that should be used for roadway improvements, and all bikeways reinforce the superstition that cyclists should not ride on roadways if it is possible to ride elsewhere. Bikeway advocates are not motivated by admiration of bikeways as such; they want to get “everybody” cycling when “everybody” is frightened of riding on roads and acting like drivers of vehicles. The issue is not bikeways themselves; it is how best to arrange for cycling by deciding between two incompatible views...

    Society has not been an impartial judge between conflicting cyclists. Society, as embodied by the public, legislators, administrators, and even many scientists, has always taken an active part by believing in the cyclist-inferiority superstition, even though that superstition has never been formally stated as a hypothesis or supported by data (p. 21).
    Epperson, on the other hand, argues that the “society” of which Forester speaks, far from being partial to bikeway advocates, has been held hostage by an anti-bikeway clique:

    ...the (bicycle planning) field reacted to legitimate criticisms of its early shortcomings by embracing the position of its most extremist critics for reasons having little to do with the veracity of their arguments. As a result, bicycle planning now advances the interest of an elite minority of cyclists while it ignores the needs of the majority, including the young, the old, and especially the poor. It has adopted positions that have left it open to charges of racism, sexism, and classism. Worst of all, bicycle planning is ignored as irrelevant by the majority of municipal residents. A captive of special interests, it is no longer able to capture the imagination or stimulate the enthusiasm of the average citizen and tax-payer. In a time of increasing financial stress for cities and states, it may not survive the decade (p. 4).
    For the would-be advocate, joining either of these camps could make bicycle transportation planning feel less messy: the ends, means, friends, and enemies become more clear when you religiously adhere to a narrow point of view. Strength flows from clear vision. Yet it seems that both sides are spinning their wheels, arguing the same points decade after decade, and making the collective vision for bicycling far from clear. At various times, in various places, one side has spoken louder than the other and seemingly won out; but the feud goes on. While individual advocates draw sustenance from hardened convictions, bicycle advocacy as a whole suffers from in-fighting and presents a divided front that confuses outsiders.

    One reason bicycle planning is so messy is that, like many technologies, nearly every type of bicycle facility has both good and bad attributes. Neil Postman (1993) has examined how we, as a culture, have trouble dealing with technology’s dual nature:

    Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that.

    Nothing could be more obvious, of course, especially to those who have given more than two minutes of thought to the matter. Nonetheless, we are currently surrounded by throngs of zealous ... one-eyed prophets who see only what new technologies can do and are incapable of imagining what they will undo.... They gaze on technology as a lover does on his beloved, seeing it as without blemish and entertaining no apprehension for the future. They are therefore dangerous and are to be approached cautiously. On the other hand, some one-eyed prophets ... are inclined to speak only of burdens ... and are silent about the opportunities that new technologies make possible.... For a bargain is struck in which technology giveth and technology taketh away. The wise know this well, and are rarely impressed by dramatic technological changes, and never overjoyed (p. 5).
    The goal of this paper is to look at bicycle facilities with both eyes open. It is not to choose sides, but to treat various viewpoints as windows, each with its own revelations and limitations.

    In Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer describes insights into depression and the biochemistry of the human mind that the medical community has gained from patients who have been put on Prozac, despite the ethical controversy surrounding that popular antidepressant. Like Prozac, bike lanes have been described as immoral emotional bandages that remove incentive for true knowledge and healing. Also like Prozac, bike lanes have been heralded as minimum-side-effect wonder remedies for all sorts of illusive ailments. In the spirit of Listening, I have tried to step out of the bike-lane fray to see what insights we might gain from our experience with these popular facilities.

    To be as fair to the reader as possible, I will say right here and now that I am not an impartial observer of the bike lane saga. I am wary of bike lanes, to say the least. Nevertheless, I recognize that, as Postman puts it, “it is inescapable that every culture must negotiate with technology, whether it does so intelligently or not.” This paper is a quest for intelligent negotiation.

    The next two chapters look at some of the car-bike crash statistics that people use to paint scientific-sounding facades on their arguments. The chapters after that cover bicyclist behavior. One describes what some prominent bicycling advocates consider to be ideal behavior. The other shows the ways cyclists more commonly get around in the real world. Next, a brief introduction to environmental design concepts precedes two chapters that examine the ways that physical settings affect bicyclist behavior and motorist-bicyclist interactions; the second of these chapters focuses on bike lanes and alternative bike lane designs.

    The final chapter summarizes conclusions drawn from the preceding chapters and includes a list of recommendations for bicycle transportation advocates and planners. These are philosophical recommendations, not warrants for what kind of facility to use where. This is not an engineering guide, but rather a guide to help advocates and planners come to terms with the complexities and contradictions of bicycle transportation and to avoid the seductive, yet simplistic, path of the one-eyed prophet.

    This paper mostly discusses issues related to bike lanes. But I intend that these issues illustrate a larger topic: the many ways in which bicycle transportation advocates, planners, engineers, and researchers fall prey to one-eyed beliefs. Perhaps because the bicycle seems like a most simple vehicle, perhaps because the act of bicycling is widely regarded as the quintessential example of something that learned once is learned for life, perhaps because of human nature not at all unique to bicycling, for some reason there seems to be a strong tendency among people who get involved in bicycle issues to want to reduce the entire field to a few simple solutions, often to a single, simple solution. I intend to show that bicycling’s simplicity is an illusion, that integrating bicycles into a environment dominated by fast and powerful motor vehicles is complicated business. My hope is that by seeing how even so-called experts on bicycle transportation limit their perspectives with dogmatic blinders, the reader will more likely approach bicycle issues with a fresh and open mind. In the end, this paper describes the state of our current understanding of bicycle issues. Those who want concrete solutions to specific problems may be disappointed to find that this paper is more about questioning answers than answering questions. I believe that the most important step toward moving beyond one-eyed prophecy is to realize that many bicycle transportation questions are far from closed.

    The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) has compelled transportation planners to give more weight to bicycle issues. This has created new opportunities for planning and funding bicycle facilities. But it has also made squabbles between bicycle advocates more public. At the same time, it has brought more non-bicyclists and more less-experienced bicyclists into the arena. I believe we will need minds that are not fettered by one-eyed dogma if we wish to make the best of the resulting cacophony of ideas. The alternatives are a bicyclist community so fragmented that it carries little clout or spawns projects planned and implemented with tunnel vision.
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  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i hope you aren't just going to post a 15 year old essay wholesale into the forum, Barry. let others read it, and excerpt valuable tidbits, but posting a lengthy article verbatim without any of your personal commentary seems both an insult to the forum readers and contemporary bike planning.

    this stuff is from a nearly two decade old perspective. bikeway planning HAS moved 'beyond the bikelanes' so to speak and beyond these false dichotomies that jeffery chooses to overemphasize in his moderately worthwhile treatise.

    I've read it before, and i suspect some of the rest of the readers of the VC forum have also. its not new news, its not current and it does not reflect the current on the ground situation in america bike design guidance today. maybe he helped planners think beyond the bikelanes but its only mildly worthy today.

    what do the rest of you think of Jeff Hiles 1996 treatise? interesting yet another transportation professional (Bruce Epperson from Miami as mentioned in the post) is ALSO critical of the elite vc anti-facilities crowd!
    Last edited by Bekologist; 09-11-10 at 07:55 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities is over a decade old and VC is older yet, so while there is some validity to your complaint about the age but on the other hand some things do not change that fast. So peoples thoughts on what's current and what's not I thought would be interesting or at least proved some entertainment in the VC section.

    So far what I have posted is more or less just setting the stage for what's coming up. In the last thread a subject came up that I did not anticipate and maybe I will learn a thing or two in this and future posts. But anyway I think getting planners away from thinking just about minimum recommendations in AASHTO and more in line with VC is still a worthwhile goal. One thing we have been talking about locally is getting more flexible with sharrow placement.

    FWIW This well be the most verbose op in this series.
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  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    should i start posting the FHWA design guidance for bicycle facilities wholesale into the VC forum?

    you really should post the link and highlighted excerpts, not the article verbatim.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 09-12-10 at 07:40 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    The perspective from the national academy of the sciences report to the transportation research board on planning for bicycles in an attempt to move beyond the false dichotomy overemphasized by hiles. 'A complicated business' - how understated of him.

    "Bicycling has been a form of human transportation for hundreds of years and remains a
    healthy and enjoyable alternative to today’s primarily automobile-centric transportation
    patterns. Before the invention of the automobile, the League of American Wheelmen led
    efforts to develop and improve America’s roadways, leading to our modern system of roads
    and highways. Bicycle safety problems have a long history in the United Stated, dating back
    to 1896 when a motor vehicle collided with a bicycle on a New York City Street—the first
    recorded automobile crash. More than a century later, safety continues to be a primary
    concern for modern bicyclists, with the challenges of traffic congestion, increasing distances
    between destinations, larger vehicles, and higher speeds.
    Bicyclists are recognized as legitimate roadway users. The Federal Highway Administration
    (FHWA) bicycle program provides guidance on numerous issues which include examples
    of statutory language emphasizing that bicyclists are part of the transportation system and
    concludes that bicyclists “should be included as a matter of routine” in the planning, design,
    and operation of transportation facilities (FHWA, 1999). The American Association of State
    Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) notes that bicycle use is recognized as “a
    viable transportation mode,” and that “All highways, except those where cyclists are legally
    prohibited, should be designed and constructed under the assumption that they will be used
    by cyclists” (AASHTO, 1999). With any roadway facility a potential bicycle facility, it is
    important to understand and accommodate bicyclists.
    The safety interests of bicyclists are sometimes in conflict with the interests of motorists. This
    conflict arises primarily from the substantially different characteristics of the two modes of
    transportation. Although bicycles can be ridden on most types of roads, the design interests
    of accommodating higher motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds during peak hour
    congestion may create conditions that are less safe for bicyclists. This guide includes road
    treatments, countermeasures, and other options that support a balanced transportation
    system.
    Safety concerns can significantly influence a person’s decision to bicycle for transportation
    or recreation. Bicyclists inherently understand that they are vulnerable road users. However,
    understanding bicyclist safety issues has proven difficult for engineers, planners, and facility
    designers. Traditionally, safety problems have been identified by analyzing police crash
    reports, and improvements have been made only after crashes have occurred. Such methods
    are not sufficient to fully understand and effectively address bicyclist safety concerns;
    waiting for crashes before responding with countermeasures carries a high price because
    many bicycle crashes tend to be severe."
    Last edited by Bekologist; 09-12-10 at 08:06 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    should i start posting the FHWA design guidance for bicycle facilities wholesale into the VC forum?

    you really should post the link and highlighted excerpts, not the article verbatim.
    Feel free to start a thread any way you like.

    Almost all the threads I've started, start with a quoted article and no comment from me (initially.) Not to mention other have also used this style. And now you complain about the style? Become a mod so you can boss others around otherwise if you don't like it don't participate.
    Cycling Advocate
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  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    its a post of a 15 year old article verbatim into the forum, dude!

    You don't think its a bit over the top if you want to have a discussion about Jeffery Hiles dated piece, listening to bike lanes?

    I'm not trying to boss you around, i'm suggesting using widely accepted, near universal standards when using a source of others peoples work.

    excerpts, not verbatim wholesale cut and paste.

    fine. my rebuttal to jeffery hiles dated piece where he overemphasizes the dichotomy between facilities advocates and vehicular cycling advocates -

    the FHWA has moved beyond the feud

    Reducing the number and severity of collisions involving bicyclists requires strategies that are
    targeted towards addressing the main factors that lead to collisions. Based on what is known
    about bicycle-related crashes, the following objectives—targeted both toward locations where
    crashes occur as well as toward the causal factors of crashes—are most likely to reduce the
    number and/or severity of crashes:
    • Reduce bicycle crashes at intersections
    • Reduce bicycle crashes along roadways
    • Reduce motor vehicle speeds
    • Reduce bicycle crashes at midblock crossings
    • Improve safety awareness and behavior
    • Increase use of bicycle safety equipment
    • Reduce influence of hazards
    Each of these strategies can be accomplished through a variety of the 23 individual strategies
    (i.e., treatments) presented in Exhibit I-3.Most strategies will work best when used at multiple
    locations, so that they become standard and expected by roadway users, and in combination
    with other treatments, so that multiple causal factors are addressed.
    In addition, many of the strategies may help accomplish more than one single objective. It is
    important for transportation professionals and others charged with improving conditions for
    bicyclists to choose the right combination of treatments to accomplish the maximum desired
    effect with the available resources.
    Finally, those involved in transportation engineering, planning, design, education, and safety
    should be aware of Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs as a potential comprehensive
    technique for improving the transportation safety for children traveling to and from school.
    SRTS programs are comprehensive programs that involve making safety-related changes to the built environment, implementing extensive child bicyclist (and pedestrian) safety education,
    and increasing traffic law enforcement around schools. SRTS programs are also intended to
    increase the number of children walking or bicycling to school, so programs usually include
    encouragement components as well. More about SRTS, including the full range of
    comprehensive activities and projects, information about selecting appropriate activities, and
    evaluation strategies can be learned from the National SRTS Clearinghouse (established by
    the U.S. Department of Transportation) at: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org.

    Recent practitioner experience indicates that multi-faceted approaches are more effective
    in achieving desired program outcomes, including creating safer walking environments
    (Zegeer et al., 2004), meeting public health goals (Schieber and Vegega, 2002), and increasing
    walking and bicycling to school (Raborn and Toole, 2006; FHWA, 2006). Although similar
    research has not yet been applied to bicycling-specific outcomes, it logically follows that
    what works for safe walking and increasing physical activity will also work for creating
    safer bicycling environments. Many bicycle-related safety problems cannot be solved simply
    II-1
    by addressing one of the “three Es” (i.e., engineering, education, or enforcement) without
    also addressing the others. Engineers, planners, law enforcement officers, designers,
    teachers, public officials, and citizens should all play a role in identifying problems and
    planning and implementing effective countermeasures and programs for improving
    bicycling safety.

    Particular attention should be paid to education. Skill levels vary widely within the bicycling
    community. Novice riders may only feel comfortable on slow-speed, neighborhood streets
    or off-street paths. Children may be more confident and want to bicycle to explore their
    environment, but may also lack the skills and experience to ride safely under varying
    conditions. Effective and sustained education programs, often neglected by transportation
    agencies that focus on engineering solutions, can significantly improve safe riding behavior
    for all bicyclists.
    Bicycle safety issues should be addressed using proactive measures. Many of the solutions that
    work for proactive pedestrian safety activities should also work for bicyclists. For example,
    planners can host interactive public workshops, survey bicyclists and other roadway or
    facility users, and talk with police and traffic engineers to identify safety issues in an area
    before crashes occur (Zegeer et al., 2004). Bicyclist safety, both actual and perceived, and the
    provision of appropriate infrastructure, will influence how many people will ride, as well as
    the number and types of bicyclist crashes that will occur.
    Finally, in making any decisions about program or countermeasure implementation, the
    special characteristics and needs of the targeted population should be considered. This is
    especially true with respect to education or enforcement interventions, but even road signs
    and pavement markings can be affected. People of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds,
    non-English speaking populations, those with physical impairments, and even children
    and the elderly may necessitate modifications to the countermeasures to ensure that
    improvements reach their intended audience and have the desired safety benefits.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i'd recommend the future use of excerpts in your next post about jeffery hiles if you want to be able to actually have a conversation about the dated information contained in listening to bikelanes.

    its the 21st century now, FHWA design guidance and planning for bicycles in the transportation mix has already moved beyond the feud. Some of the particulars against thoughtful planning for road and highway bike traffic have not.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  9. #9
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    The safety interests of bicyclists are sometimes in conflict with the interests of motorists. This
    conflict arises primarily from the substantially different characteristics of the two modes of
    transportation. Although bicycles can be ridden on most types of roads, the design interests
    of accommodating higher motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds during peak hour
    congestion may create conditions that are less safe for bicyclists. This guide includes road
    treatments, countermeasures, and other options that support a balanced transportation
    system.
    Safety concerns can significantly influence a person’s decision to bicycle for transportation
    or recreation. Bicyclists inherently understand that they are vulnerable road users. However,
    understanding bicyclist safety issues has proven difficult for engineers, planners, and facility
    designers. Traditionally, safety problems have been identified by analyzing police crash
    reports, and improvements have been made only after crashes have occurred. Such methods
    are not sufficient to fully understand and effectively address bicyclist safety concerns;
    waiting for crashes before responding with countermeasures carries a high price because
    many bicycle crashes tend to be severe."
    I highlighted this bit because as the Hiles paper will go into how the word "safety" is not appropriate. Safety here assumes it is the cyclists that are the rule breakers and not the motorists. Even if safety was the issue it's like saying for your safety don't swim in the polluted waters and for the convince of industry it's OK to pollute those waters. A better analogy would be "For your safety don't swim in the waters because of the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide."

    Highlighting crash types over the behavior that has lead up to the crash misses a huge body of understanding and potential fixes. For example we find a section of road with a huge number ROR events, so we fix that problem and then the death toll goes up on that road after the fix. If people would have taken the time to examine that the behavior was the result of drunk driving and when you prevent a drunk from running off the road, odds are they'll just hit someone on the road instead. Fixing the crash type does not always lead to fixing a problem or correcting behavior.
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  10. #10
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    i'd recommend the future use of excerpts in your next post about jeffery hiles if you want to be able to actually have a conversation about the dated information contained in listening to bikelanes.

    its the 21st century now, FHWA design guidance and planning for bicycles in the transportation mix has already moved beyond the feud. Some of the particulars against thoughtful planning for road and highway bike traffic have not.
    If you haven't noticed I think we are having a conversation even though I did the op totally wrong.

    I will agree there is potential to interpret FHWA design guidance so it is in the 21st century but the kicker is there is also the potential to propagate the same old issues that are discussed in this paper. There is no requirement to force "the best interpretation" of FHWA design guidance. There is no requirement to even use the FHWA guidance, in fact some States write their own guidance.
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  11. #11
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    The title of the companion discussion is Moving Beyond the Feud. That's real easy. Have bicycle advocates get the three anti-cyclist restrictive laws (whichever exist in each jurisdiction) repealed. Then those of us who know better won't be under the official persecution when we choose not to use the facilities advocated by bicycle advocates.

  12. #12
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    that tired canard?

    how about recognizing that bicycle specific protections from bikes FRAP laws are more permissive for bicyclists than general SMV FRAP laws, and that a removal of these protections would lead to greater restrictions on cyclists.

    Mandatory bikelane and shoulder use laws should be fought against. luckily there are in only a handful of states.

    Bikeways planning needs to follow and develop in the directions 21st century design guidance (federal or states, barry) already has.

    Build better bikeways along emphasized transportation corridors in communities so as to facilitate populist bicycling.

    Plan for roadway bicycling on all roads except those bicyclists are prohibited.

    Plan for all of the public rather than just the traffic tolerant 'expert' cyclists in a community, as they are both traffic tolerant and will always be the extreme minority.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  13. #13
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    "No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding." - Plato

    If motorist and police did not order me to ride on the sidewalk (which is against the law) then I would say changing the law might have some merit otherwise I feel we need to look to other methods to better the understanding.
    Cycling Advocate
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