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sorry bud, I didn't see you!

Old 03-14-23, 04:11 PM
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sorry bud, I didn't see you!

I doubt that anyone with decent cycling experience hasn't heard this at least once, or it's variant, "where the %^$#&* did you come from?" Of course, this is something people will say after a collision or near miss because they're certainly not going to say "I saw him, but decided to hit him anyway.".

I've seen countless posts here cursing out rude, uncaring, indifferent, negligent, %&$%#* drivers who've said similar, but have you ever considered that it might be true. Namely, they simply DID NOT SEE YOU.

There are countless reasons, many of which were discussed in this forum, but this might be new and useful to some here. It has to do with how humans see. Simply put, our eyes are not still or motion picture cameras, and don't send images to the brain. Instead, they send raw data to the brain for processing. We then refer to an internal database of image data and select the one that best fits and "see" that. This is the basis of things like optical illusions and "trompe l'oeil" images. We only see what we can recognize, and will not understand what we're seeing without context.

This is critical to cyclists because we have to be conscious of how "invisible" we actually are out on the road.

To see just how bad this is, try an experiment. Download a jigsaw puzzle app to your phone or tablet, and do a few. At some point you'll experience a magic moment when you have a piece you're having trouble placing suddenly seem to change once you fit it into place. That black dot in the corner of a blue and white piece is actually part of a bird's head and eye, or whatever. Once in a while the effect is so pronounced that the piece and it's neighbors change right before your eyes.

So, the point is that out on the road, you're just a bunch of pixels that make no sense until the observer has enough data and context to recognize you for what you are. I'm not here to excuse drivers, just to point out practical realities and remind riders that they have to assume that they're invisible, or at least well camouflaged, and they have to make an active effort to be seen, or prepared to react when they're not.

FWIW - I speak from first hand experience having not seen things countless times in my lifetime. The list runs from small to huge, up to include a tractor trailer coming from my right as I was pulling out in front of him. (I'm here because of the happy confluence of reflexes, motor power and brakes). I wonder what that driver would have said if I'd told him, "sorry, I didn't see you".

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Old 03-14-23, 09:03 PM
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I don’t know any specifics about how humans process what our eyes detect, but I know it is as you describe, not just our eyes detecting an image but how our brains process that image.

I do know that we do not consciously process everything our senses detect. And in fact, things we do repeatedly go from requiring conscious thought to essentially becoming automatic and unconscious. Balancing and riding a bike is one example.

In most US areas, cyclists are relatively rare. Our brains have adapted to what we experience regularly. We learn to tune out what our experience has shown us to not matter, until of course it does. When driving we encounter others cars every time we drive. I can go weeks at a time and never cross paths with a cyclist while driving.

In the end, for all practical purposes, no one drives into something they have actually seen. This doesn’t excuse them. We all have a responsibility to not hit things with our cars. But it does explain the “they came out of nowhere” often heard. And anyone with any experience driving has had that happen, though fortunately it most often is just a surprise and a scare and no harm is done. Anyone saying otherwise is either lying or so unaware they don’t even realize their errors.

This I think is one of the good reasons drivers should always stop at stop signs, no matter what. Give themselves a chance to actually see something. I see many who only stop when they “see” a reason to stop. I do roll most stops signs on my bike, but I’m going much slower than a car, have much better lines of sight, and a lot more skin in the game. And, if in any doubt, I stop.
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Old 03-15-23, 05:47 AM
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Where I apply this most is lane choice at intersections. The problem with FRAP at intersections is obvious when you consider that peripheral vision is particularly bad and susceptible to the blank-filling phenomenon, and that's not even accounting for the right side blind spot. On an urban street, I will frequently lane change depending on the speed of the traffic and my ability to check whether the destination lane is clear before I merge into it. I'm fairly confident it's harder for the human brain to ignore the object directly in front of the driver, and I think it's the right hook that I consider the most likely threat to my safety.
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Old 03-15-23, 06:56 AM
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This is why I don't edge ride. Human vision has a roughly 15 degree cone that is completely in focus, so you want to be inside that.
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Old 03-15-23, 07:47 AM
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While this video deals with motorcyclists, the principles are the same.
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Old 03-15-23, 08:04 AM
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Another good reason for self-driving cars.
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Old 03-15-23, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4
Another good reason for self-driving cars.

Not yet, right now it isn't. AI assistance and automated detection systems may make human drivers safer, but we're a long way off from cars that drive themselves more safely than human controlled cars.

I think OP's intent was to spark discussion of how to ride in today's context, not on how future technology might change things. From what I've seen, the experts on that subject can't seem to agree on time frames and possibilities, the technology is still at too early a stage of development to really know where it's going.
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Old 03-15-23, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions

I think OP's intent was to spark discussion of how to ride in today's context, not on how future technology might change things.....
Yes, while many here are highly committed to a brighter future, I'm focused on helping people live long enough to see it.
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Old 03-15-23, 10:11 PM
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As a motorcyclist, I've contended with the SMIDSY syndrome many times.

I am never going to excuse those car drivers who are in such a hurry to get wherever they're late to, that they choose not to actually LOOK for what's coming down the road.

I think they look just hard enough for anything that might hurt them ( like another car, truck, etc. ) and if that is not apparent, they pull out....

They don't see because they don't look.
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Old 03-15-23, 11:10 PM
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I'm not into the blame game, I'm into the survival game.

If you want to blame people rather than understand the causes, that's fine by me.

However, whether you prefer to blame drivers, biology, or physics, you're the one picking up the tab.
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Old 03-15-23, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
This I think is one of the good reasons drivers should always stop at stop signs, no matter what. Give themselves a chance to actually see something. I see many who only stop when they “see” a reason to stop. I do roll most stops signs on my bike, but I’m going much slower than a car, have much better lines of sight, and a lot more skin in the game. And, if in any doubt, I stop.
There's another issue here. STOP signs have been installed at many intersections across the US where a full stop is not always necessary to avoid conflicts with other traffic. The proliferation of STOP control can be due to local policy, or decisionmakers thinking that greater restriction will increase safety, or other factors. Road users have figured out at many of these locations a full stop is not necessary in order to have time or space to react, and have adapted their behavior to minimize their delay or inconvenience. A problem arises where road users rely on this conditioned behavior but the intersection is of a type where a full stop is truly appropriate - and Bad Things Happen.

The proposed draft of the new edition of the national standard for US traffic control (the MUTCD) has a section noting that the least restrictive control should be applied to intersections that provides appropriate safety and efficiency. Hopefully once the new edition is adopted practitioners and decisionmakers will read and heed this guidance. But it may be tough to change long-standing practices and habits.
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Old 03-15-23, 11:49 PM
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A couple of thoughts from my observations as both rider and driver. 1) In general, we are not as bright as we like to think we are. Many popular colors often do not show up at all. I find in many different lights, I barely see red. Greens, browns and a lot of patterns, even really bright patterns are camouflage against common backgrounds in broad daylight. Dark colors can disappear. The only color I've worn that gets thanks from drivers is solid yellow.

2) I have worked on developing my peripheral vision since I raced long ago. It works very well - for what it sees: stuff that moves. It doesn't see what doesn't move. I see dogs far better than I see the car stopped at a stop sign unless I turn my eyes and look. (Racing - that whatever I might need to dodge could come from anywhere. I spent a lot of my time when sitting on a wheel in the pack simply keeping my eyes on the jersey pockets of the rider in front of me. Totally boring. What I wanted to be fully dialed in to so I could react was my peripheral vision. That crash ahead. The water bottle that came off the bike ahead and to my left. The whatever the rider in front of me was going over. With my attention on anything in particular, I might miss that.

And yes, I do have to look around - at the traffic situation that will be happening, lights. signs ... or in races, the race situation, the road ahead ... but I try not to spend all my time there because that might not be where the thing that's gonna take me out will be coming from and the harder I "look" (focus), the less I "see" (peripheral)..
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Old 03-16-23, 12:03 AM
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For me, it's hard to stay calm when it's your life on the line. Whether they did it intentionally or not doesn't make a difference in how injured (or dead) you get. That being said, a simple apology goes a long way with me, as I realize we are all human and hopefully that inspires them to pay more attention in the future. I even try to keep in mind that those who try and justify their actions are probably just embarrassed and can't fess up, but it does make me wonder if they will convince themselves that there's no need to be more cautious.
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Old 03-16-23, 02:05 AM
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I started this thread to remind folks of just how invisible we are. If you haven't experienced the "jigsaw piece" effect you might try the experiment.

But staying safe is more than being visible. For example some of my closest calls involve what I call slow thinkers. I'm sure we've all met the folks who, in all fairness, are careful and conscientious, but......

You're approaching an intersection, and a car is there, either waiting to enter from the right, or coming and waiting to make a left. He's there, and there's plenty of time. So, he looks left & right carefully, and after verifying all is good, he goes. The problem is that by the time slow thinkers confirm that it's safe, it no longer is.

IME slow thinkers may be the RD worst out there. I'm used to and can adjust to rude or blind drivers, but slow thinkers make a good show of waiting until you accept that they've decided to wait. That's when they go.

IMO the key is to operate like there's you're an AWACS plane tracking every car in the area, and being ready to react not only to are likely to do, but every possibility of what they might do.
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Old 03-16-23, 04:12 AM
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Although a relative rarity in the dozen or so times a car has pulled out in front of me, whilst on either my motorcycle or bicycle, I will add to the "car approaching an intersection" danger situations.

An air crash investigation episode of some years ago amazed me when realising the potential for a hidden road danger I had never considered.

Two aircraft collided in mid-air as they were approaching one another at right angles. To each pilot, the other aircraft remained perfectly hidden behind the windshield corner brace, from far away and right up to the collision.

It is entirely possible that a car driver may not even be able to see you if you ( on a bicycle ) and he or she are approaching each other in a similar manner.

One personal experience riding my motorcycle involved conditions that matched the above circumstances. Fortunately by this time I had learned to have zero trust in other road users and a "sixth sense" of anticipating the possible outcome certainly saved me from injury or worse.
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Old 03-16-23, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
I doubt that anyone with decent cycling experience hasn't heard this at least once, or it's variant, "where the %^$#&* did you come from?" Of course, this is something people will say after a collision or near miss because they're certainly not going to say "I saw him, but decided to hit him anyway.".

I've seen countless posts here cursing out rude, uncaring, indifferent, negligent, %&$%#* drivers who've said similar, but have you ever considered that it might be true. Namely, they simply DID NOT SEE YOU.

There are countless reasons, many of which were discussed in this forum, but this might be new and useful to some here. It has to do with how humans see. Simply put, our eyes are not still or motion picture cameras, and don't send images to the brain. Instead, they send raw data to the brain for processing. We then refer to an internal database of image data and select the one that best fits and "see" that. This is the basis of things like optical illusions and "trompe l'oeil" images. We only see what we can recognize, and will not understand what we're seeing without context.

This is critical to cyclists because we have to be conscious of how "invisible" we actually are out on the road.

To see just how bad this is, try an experiment. Download a jigsaw puzzle app to your phone or tablet, and do a few. At some point you'll experience a magic moment when you have a piece you're having trouble placing suddenly seem to change once you fit it into place. That black dot in the corner of a blue and white piece is actually part of a bird's head and eye, or whatever. Once in a while the effect is so pronounced that the piece and it's neighbors change right before your eyes.

So, the point is that out on the road, you're just a bunch of pixels that make no sense until the observer has enough data and context to recognize you for what you are. I'm not here to excuse drivers, just to point out practical realities and remind riders that they have to assume that they're invisible, or at least well camouflaged, and they have to make an active effort to be seen, or prepared to react when they're not.

FWIW - I speak from first hand experience having not seen things countless times in my lifetime. The list runs from small to huge, up to include a tractor trailer coming from my right as I was pulling out in front of him. (I'm here because of the happy confluence of reflexes, motor power and brakes). I wonder what that driver would have said if I'd told him, "sorry, I didn't see you".
Anyone who has driven long enough will say the same thing. In the past when I have not seen highly visible things it was most often when I was mentally distracted. That was typically from being tired or having a headache. I have noticed when I ride, that my decision making and situational awareness are not as sharp when I am physically tired. As an alert driver, with a clear mind and focused on the task at hand, I see other road users. Distractions can be mental or physical and it is some form of distraction that causes us not to see things in plain sight.
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Old 03-16-23, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas
This is why I don't edge ride. Human vision has a roughly 15 degree cone that is completely in focus, so you want to be inside that.
My main reason for not riding on the edge is that I don't want cars trying to squeeze by in the same lane. But I do agree with you somewhat. But whether it's the area of focus or not, I feel that if I am on the edge then the changing colors and terrain of the side of the road will camouflage me more so than the consistent road surface that I will be contrasted against while I'm riding more to the center of my lane.

My state laws give me a out by saying I should stay as far right as practicable. As do many other states. So within the legal definition of practicable over practical, I feel it includes staying where I feel safe.
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Old 03-17-23, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by redshift1
Although a relative rarity in the dozen or so times a car has pulled out in front of me, whilst on either my motorcycle or bicycle, I will add to the "car approaching an intersection" danger situations.

An air crash investigation episode of some years ago amazed me when realising the potential for a hidden road danger I had never considered.

Two aircraft collided in mid-air as they were approaching one another at right angles. To each pilot, the other aircraft remained perfectly hidden behind the windshield corner brace, from far away and right up to the collision.

It is entirely possible that a car driver may not even be able to see you if you ( on a bicycle ) and he or she are approaching each other in a similar manner.

One personal experience riding my motorcycle involved conditions that matched the above circumstances. Fortunately by this time I had learned to have zero trust in other road users and a "sixth sense" of anticipating the possible outcome certainly saved me from injury or worse.
I have found that the "A" pillar in my current car is much thicker than in the cars I learned to drive with. More than once at intersections the pillar has blocked my view of pedestrians crossing the street and seem to "come out of nowhere" Same for cyclists. Now I try to remember to move my head from side to side in an effort to see around the blind spot formed by that pillar
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Old 03-17-23, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
There's another issue here. STOP signs have been installed at many intersections across the US where a full stop is not always necessary to avoid conflicts with other traffic. The proliferation of STOP control can be due to local policy, or decisionmakers thinking that greater restriction will increase safety, or other factors. Road users have figured out at many of these locations a full stop is not necessary in order to have time or space to react, and have adapted their behavior to minimize their delay or inconvenience. A problem arises where road users rely on this conditioned behavior but the intersection is of a type where a full stop is truly appropriate - and Bad Things Happen.

The proposed draft of the new edition of the national standard for US traffic control (the MUTCD) has a section noting that the least restrictive control should be applied to intersections that provides appropriate safety and efficiency. Hopefully once the new edition is adopted practitioners and decisionmakers will read and heed this guidance. But it may be tough to change long-standing practices and habits.
Interesting post. The suburb that I live in is chock full of 4 ways stops. For no rhyme or reason, some intersections have no stops and others are two way. Motorists that are accustomed to most stops being 4 way, will roll up come to an almost stop at a 2 way, then go without looking, assuming that it's a 4 way and that with nobody at the intersection it's clear.
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Old 03-17-23, 08:21 PM
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Inattentional blindness is another reason for drivers not seeing us, as well as the "the faster you go the narrower your field of vision".

My new favorite is how most drivers at a stop waiting to turn right, only look for a hole in oncoming traffic; they never glance in the other direction for pedestrians; we've had people killed because of that. Hell, I nearly died because of that. Giant pickup on single lane two-way turning left onto multi-lane one-way; fortunately I was on foot, halfway across the other lane when he zoomed past me to the stop sign. I stood there, two feet from his quarter panel, and watched the back of his head for at least two minutes before he made his left turn. I don't think he ever saw me. Moral of the story; NEVER trust the drivers.
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Old 03-17-23, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
This is critical to cyclists because we have to be conscious of how "invisible" we actually are out on the road.
It has been my experience here on A&S that people do not want to know how invisible they are to motorists. They do not want to know that humans are imperfect beings as a whole and vision is far from a perfect sense in particular. Because if they truly KNOW that huge, fast chunks of steel piloted by imperfect beings with poor image processing are passing them within a few inches, dozens if not hundreds of times each ride, and they decide to get out there ANYWAY, then PART of the onus for any future disaster is clearly ON THEM. Many here, and I'm sure out there in the real world as well, do not want to believe that playing in highway traffic is inherently dangerous because if they believe it is dangerous and do it anyway they are part of the problem.

I believe strongly in KNOWING the risks at hand. If I decide to PUT MYSELF AT RISK, and lose that bet, I will not cry like a newborn baby afterwards. I made an adult decision to line up with fast moving imperfect objects that are potentially deadly of my own free will.

Maybe better if I don't know (or deny) the danger so I can blame someone else if I get hozed playing in traffic. Yeah, that's the ticket.

(Nice OP write-up BTW. I enjoyed it. Have posted similar in the past. Perhaps your words will resonate better than mine)
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Old 03-17-23, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
Maybe better if I don't know (or deny) the danger so I can blame someone else if I get hozed playing in traffic. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Absolutely bizarre to see you post opinions like this on the regular while keeping the avatar you have, and having read you say that you don't really ride anymore. Recognizing that motorists often don't see drivers =/= an excuse to blame victims.
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Old 03-17-23, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
It has been my experience here on A&S that people do not want to know how invisible they are to motorists. .......
Yes, and NO.

While I agree with you on many of your posts, including some raised here, I strongly disagree on the sum total of this post.

Life isn't black and white, and there's a big difference between assumed risk, and ONUS for any negative consequences. Part of that turns on thr reasonableness of the risks involved.

We all assume countless risks every day, by living in areas prone to natural disaster, by taking commercial flights, by going out in the world where we might be victims of a crime, and so on.

That willing acceptance of possible consequences doesn't excuse the human agents that harm us. I reserve the right to blame the bank robber who happens to be there when I am.

Your screed here is as inappropriate as telling an young woman that she dressed proactively and, so it's her fault she was assaulted.

Yes, we assume certain risks when we ride on public roads, but we're also allowed the expectation that drivers will act responsibly.

I was lucky to learn early on the difference between an explanation and an excuse. So this puts me in the DMZ on issues like this. I understand that drivers make mistakes, and am willing to accept their explanations. But, depending on the details, I see a range of distinctions between excuse, responsibility, negligence, and criminal negligence.

IMO, no cyclist needs to be lectured about assumed risks on the road. We get enough of that from our non-cycling friends and families. I also challenge, and always have, the notion that road cycling is dangerous. I consider it very reasonably safe, though it does have certain hazards that need to be managed.

My intent here on BF is to focus on skills needed to keep cycling safe, so those less experienced can be like the wise child who learned not to when his brother put his finger in the outlet.
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Old 03-17-23, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by retswerb
Absolutely bizarre to see you post opinions like this on the regular while keeping the avatar you have, and having read you say that you don't really ride anymore.......
Interesting point, if true, that he's hung up the wheels.

If so, are getting lectured about demon rum by a reformed alcoholic?
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Old 03-17-23, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
It has been my experience here on A&S that people do not want to know how invisible they are to motorists. They do not want to know that humans are imperfect beings as a whole and vision is far from a perfect sense in particular.
Actually people here are in general quite well informed about that.

It's just their response is in a direction orthogonal to yours.

huge, fast chunks of steel piloted by imperfect beings with poor image processing are passing them within a few inches, dozens if not hundreds of times each ride
That is not happening frequently to your typical informed A&S regular. The reason it is not happening is that we're using lane positioning to largely prevent it - if there isn't plenty of room for a well spaced pass, we're positioning ourselves to preclude even trying.

What you're describing as a frequent occurrence is more a one instance in the whole of every other ride kind of thing.
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