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As Gas Prices Soar So Does City Biking

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the it's-a-vicious-cycle dept.

Transportation 342

Hugh Pickens writes "As California's gas prices hit record highs, the millions of dollars spent in recent years on commuter bike lanes and public transportation projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cities are being seen in a new light by many drivers. Jason Dearen reports that San Francisco is seeing a 71-percent increase in cyclists in the past five years, and Los Angeles is reporting a 32 percent increase from 2009-2011. Both findings gibe with the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which found a 63 percent increase in bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2010 in the nation's 70 largest cities. 'In some ways it's a perfect storm of events that is starting to take place,' says Claire Bowin, head of policy planning for Los Angeles' planning department. Getting people out of cars 'is a very daunting task, but on other hand we have largely benefited from a growing community here that is demanding these things.' Los Angeles is building almost 1,600 miles of bike infrastructure (PDF) over the next five years. Los Angeles County's Metrolink, which features open train cars for bike riders is seeing record ridership. Changing attitudes about cars — caused by climate change — are helping these efforts as people in their twenties and thirties have adopted biking in larger numbers than previous generations (PDF)."

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Its the economy stupid! (4, Insightful)

James McGuigan (852772) | about 2 years ago | (#41648539)

Clinton said it... "Its the economy stupid!"

Re:Its the economy stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648675)

Actually, it's the stupid, stupid!

(INB4 someone quoting parent comment as proof. ;)

Re:Its the economy stupid! (0)

javilon (99157) | about 2 years ago | (#41648691)

Yes, and China is leading the way in this area too, exporting civilization to the west for thousands of years.

Re:Its the economy stupid! (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41648775)

If by "leading the way" you mean "stigmatizing bike riders as too poor to own a car", then you're right. I see about 1-2 people per month wearing spandex, which means they're riding recreationally. The rest are working poor...to be looked down upon, in the same way that normal Americans look down on rural residents.

Re:Its the economy stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648855)

But rural residents look down on city dwellers.

Re:Its the economy stupid! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41649139)

But they're not the ones who get to tell the story, eh? Rural people = evil morons in the culture that everyone consumes.

Re:Its the economy stupid! (1)

javilon (99157) | about 2 years ago | (#41648907)

I hoped it is clear I was kidding.

Re:Its the economy stupid! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648925)

I ride my bike to work and I also drive an $80k USD automobile.

I don't wear spanding, just workout clothes (loose fitting, weather appropriate cotton stuff).

Re:Its the economy stupid! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648975)

Avoid cotton in the winter. Cotton kills.

http://sectionhiker.com/why-does-cotton-kill/ [sectionhiker.com]

This site will explain it, although its pointed at hikers. The big one is wicking.

Biking is better (4, Informative)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41648549)

It's healthier and it's more fun. The idea that the car equals freedom is pretty much dead these days if you live anywhere with a dense population. Cars are for the fat and lazy.

Re:Biking is better (2)

shilly (142940) | about 2 years ago | (#41648567)

Nah. Cars are just tools, as are bikes, except they have worse externalities (pollution, injuries, etc). Car clubs help when you need to transport several people plus bulky / heavy goods at once. Car club + bike + public transport + shank's pony + Hailo-ordered taxi = excellent transport for London, and I'm sure many other cities too.

Re:Biking is better (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41648989)

Odd, my car club encourages us to not have any passengers and to drive as fast as possible without going anywhere. I spend a weekend driving the same route in a circle over and over and over again and trying to do it as fast as I possibly can.

Car clubs in Great Britain are very different than what we have here.

Re:Biking is better (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648607)

It's healthier and it's more fun. The idea that the car equals freedom is pretty much dead these days if you live anywhere with a dense population. Cars are for the fat and lazy.

In a city I agree. In a dense city you can easily get by without a car since there is no sprawl. Here in the suburbs and in nearby semi-rural areas that is not the deal.

Here, an adult on a bicycle means one of two things: he's been convicted of a DUI or he's a fruity fitness nut.

In this conservative area I also suspect that a man wearing spandex and sticking his ass up in the air is how members of the gay community find each other since they would catch flak for being openly gay around here. I mean *I* could use a bicycle in regular clothes, without the costume, so why can't they? There must be a reason. Don't tell me that at 30 mph the wind resistance of spandex gives you extra speed or something, that's ridiculous. There is a distinct lack of female cyclists, by the way. And for some reason the male cyclists insist on picking narrow, high-speed roads during rush hour and then making risky maneuvers like running red lights instead of following traffic rules like bikes are supposed to. Like I said there's gotta be a reason they go to such trouble.

Re:Biking is better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648687)

I mean *I* could use a bicycle in regular clothes, without the costume, so why can't they? There must be a reason.

Unlike you, I imagine, they don't have to hide their fat asses and oversized guts from the rest of the world.

Re:Biking is better (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648741)

I mean *I* could use a bicycle in regular clothes, without the costume, so why can't they? There must be a reason.

Unlike you, I imagine, they don't have to hide their fat asses and oversized guts from the rest of the world.

My experience in America is that being fat and out of shape never seems to cause Americans to dress modestly.

I often think thoughts like "they should have never made Spandex in those sizes". At the beach, thongs shouldn't be made above a certain size either. Nobody wants to see rolls of fat and cellulite. And frankly fat chicks trying to get a tan is the same as fat chicks getting their hair permed - they are polishing a turd, tans and perms won't make men want you again, losing the weight will, so you might as well put the effort where it will be effective.

Re:Biking is better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648781)

The cycling clothes have real advantages over normal clothes when you ride a bike for several hours. I'm not talking about commuting. The other actions you're talking about (running red lights etc. are simply the actions of lazy assholes). And why is someone who likes to cycle a fruity fitness nut? People who play football dress up in all kinds of retarded gear; are they fruity fitness nuts as well?

Re:Biking is better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648851)

Actually, while I can't stand spandex for the life of me, the thing is, that, if you bike a lot (more than 10km on daily average), the chafing will destroy your regular pants quicker than you want to buy new ones. You’d have to sew a slippery material to the outside *and* inside to get rid of that. And then you're looking not much better than in spandex. ;)
Also, your ass will go numb a lot and chafe too, if only a teeny-tiny parameter is not perfectly comfortable.

I never wore spandex, and never will. But hell, have I destroyed a lot of great pants. :/

There really should be a better solution. I think super-slippery seat material and underpants might solve it. But I haven't found anything suitable yet.

Also, actually, air resistance *is* a problem if you're quick. As are too soft wheels and road resistance. Optimizing those gave me 5 km/h speed improvement *each* (over the "I don't give a fuck" method).
But the best way to gain speed, is to just not be a fatass anymore (= less inertia). Unfortunately that is also by far the hardest way.
Not a excuse to wear spandex though. ^^

Re:Biking is better (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648951)

...There really should be a better solution. I think super-slippery seat material and underpants might solve it. But I haven't found anything suitable yet. Also, actually, air resistance *is* a problem if you're quick. As are too soft wheels and road resistance. Optimizing those gave me 5 km/h speed improvement *each* (over the "I don't give a fuck" method). ...

Look around, there is underwear available with a chamois ("shammy") insert for cycling. I've also taken a hammer and flattened painful seams in the seat area of jeans--use a zig-zag sewing machine to re-assemble the fabric without the bumps.

I've spent some time measuring bike air resistance in wind tunnels and you are absolutely right about clothes. If you change from loose flapping clothes to tighter ones, you might see an air drag reduction of about 10%. The next step from tight normal clothes to spandex is worth about another 10%. Depending on your air drag and choice of tires (and tire pressure), these two sources of drag might be about equal at 12-15 mph, as soon as you are going faster, air drag dominates. Reference, "Bicycling Science":
    http://books.google.com/books/about/Bicycling_Science_3rd_Edition.html?id=0JJo6DlF9iMC [google.com]

Re:Biking is better (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41649025)

Riding a recumbent fixes this. Stop riding an out of date bicycle. I can ride 2X the distance in comfort on my recumbent than the best trained regular bike guy can. Plus it pisses them off that I can ride and take photos and eat some almonds, whine they are always standing on the pedals.

Re:Biking is better (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41649005)

"I mean *I* could use a bicycle in regular clothes, without the costume, so why can't they? There must be a reason."

The same reason you see most Harley Davidson Motorcycle Riders always out in their costume. It's Fashion, trying to look good and impress their other bike riding friends. Some wear their fashion all the time.

Re:Biking is better (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41649033)

. I mean *I* could use a bicycle in regular clothes, without the costume, so why can't they? There must be a reason. Don't tell me that at 30 mph the wind resistance of spandex gives you extra speed or something, that's ridiculous.

Do you watch any sport? Why do you think your football team/baseball team/soccer team wear the clothes they do? The answer is because they're functional.

Try sticking your arm out a car window at 30mph wearing loose clothing (ideally when you're a passenger). Your clothes will be flapping a lot because of the wind resistance. Yes, wearing cycling gear makes you faster, but it's also a heck of a lot more comfortable than flapping clothes.

Cycling clothes have seams prepared so a rough seam won't graze through your skin. Sure, that's probably not needed for a five mile commute to work, but most the guys and girls you'll see wearing spandex on a weekend will be on their bike for hours.

Re:Biking is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648625)

I hate bikes that require humans to power it.

Re:Biking is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648647)

It's healthier and it's more fun.

Sure it increases your fitness levels, but with all the smog and pollution I very much doubt that cycling or jogging to work is actually healthier for you.

Re:Biking is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648681)

several studies have shown that air pollution inside cars is higher than outside, at least in traffic jams.....

Re:Biking is better (1, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41648809)

Sure it increases your fitness levels, but with all the smog and pollution I very much doubt that cycling or jogging to work is actually healthier for you.

Deaths per mile traveled are spectacularly higher, and the bicycle always "loses" in an accident, even vs pedestrians, something to do with height of head above ground and road rash. People are notoriously bad at estimating risk, so that's no surprise that something supposedly health is actually unhealthy.

You're "about" four times safer driving on road than biking. I realize its not politically correct but roads are for cars and motorcycles, not for bicycles. Use the correct tool for the job. Or at least buy sufficient life insurance for spouse and kids if you insist on biking.

You'll hear a lot of imaginary tradeoffs where you can either drive, or bike commute, therefore either no exercise or exercise. However, bike commuting is so incredibly slow, that if I biked I'd never have time to exercise other than bike riding... a "eh" cardio and a good leg workout, but the rest of me would suffer. I find it interesting that the vast majority of serious athletes commute by car, which pretty much says it all.

Re:Biking is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648961)

Deaths per mile traveled are spectacularly higher, and the bicycle always "loses" in an accident, even vs pedestrians, something to do with height of head above ground and road rash. People are notoriously bad at estimating risk, so that's no surprise that something supposedly health is actually unhealthy.

In other news, deaths from head-on collisions involving garden snails is again at record lows this year, especially compared to frogs trying to cross a downtown sidewalk.

You're "about" four times safer driving on road than biking. I realize its not politically correct but roads are for cars and motorcycles, not for bicycles. Use the correct tool for the job. Or at least buy sufficient life insurance for spouse and kids if you insist on biking.

I can and do use the correct tool for the job when my commute (within a few miles) calls for it. As far as mortality, when I step into any mode of transportation (even my running shoes to head out on foot), the chances are all equal. You have a 50/50 chance of dying on any given day, using any given form of transport. If you want to dissect it more than that, go bore a lawyer or insurance rep. They are the only ones who give a shit. And yes, I have life insurance, and I'm smart enough to wear a helmet.

You'll hear a lot of imaginary tradeoffs where you can either drive, or bike commute, therefore either no exercise or exercise. However, bike commuting is so incredibly slow, that if I biked I'd never have time to exercise other than bike riding... a "eh" cardio and a good leg workout, but the rest of me would suffer. I find it interesting that the vast majority of serious athletes commute by car, which pretty much says it all.

I find it interesting how you cannot seem to correlate the rising cost of gas and peoples desire to commute via cheaper means of transportation. Professional athletes are rarely seen scrounging pennies from underneath the floor mats as they fill up their 8MPG Viper. No shit they drive a car everywhere. They pay a professional trainer six figures to train them for 4 hours a day. I would want to show up for practice tired either.

Re:Biking is better (4, Informative)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 2 years ago | (#41649001)

However, bike commuting is so incredibly slow, that if I biked I'd never have time to exercise other than bike riding

Compared to what? I commute on bike each day, using 25 minutes each way. In a car, I would be using 15 minutes. For me, the saved time would not be used in a gym. It would most likely be used on my back side. Net result is 50 minutes of exercise each day that I would not be getting if I drove a car. I'm sure I'm not the only one in that situation.

Re:Biking is better (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41649093)

Sure about that 25 minute figure? I figure I'm doing well if from door to door I can shower and change clothes in 10 minutes so you're somehow claiming it takes 15 minutes in car or on bike.... That also messes up your exercise claim of 50 minutes now you're down to only 30 minutes, which really isn't much (thats about how long I go for a walk every day at lunch, admittedly not "real" exercise). For example, my flex time commute is about 20 minutes when I avoid rush hour (which I almost always do). There's no way I can maintain 75 miles per hour for about 15 minutes on level ground on my bike, so that's an easy 90 minutes or so each way on a bike at realistic long distance (for a daily bike commuter) speeds. Add some shower time and realistic break time (water breaks when its over 100, knock the ice off when its below freezing, etc) and we're up to a good 4 hours of commute per day, vs 40 minutes in my car and 3 hrs 20 mins of some mixture of relaxing exercising /.-posting whatever.

For me, the saved time would not be used in a gym.

Find a gym or whatever that you want to go to. I don't mind exercise if I like the place, the people, and the activity. Life's too short to do stuff you don't like because someone else says you should from a hair shirt perspective.

Re:Biking is better (5, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41649063)

Deaths per mile traveled are spectacularly higher, and the bicycle always "loses" in an accident, even vs pedestrians, something to do with height of head above ground and road rash. People are notoriously bad at estimating risk, so that's no surprise that something supposedly health is actually unhealthy.

You're "about" four times safer driving on road than biking. I realize its not politically correct but roads are for cars and motorcycles, not for bicycles. Use the correct tool for the job. Or at least buy sufficient life insurance for spouse and kids if you insist on biking.

Statistics can be interpreted in many many ways.

Deaths per mile are higher, deaths per hour on the road are much lower. Cycling encourages you to live close so you can reach amenities by bikes. Few cycling commuters live 20+ miles away from work, lots of car owners do.

I commute four miles to work in 15 minutes by bike. Many others at the same location commute 10 miles in that time.

So, if you pretend your bike is a car and do 15,000 miles a year on it, your figures might be right. Use a bike like most do and ride only a few thousand miles per year and your figures are misleading to the point of being ridiculous.

Re:Biking is better (3, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | about 2 years ago | (#41649143)

Deaths per mile traveled are spectacularly higher, ... You're "about" four times safer driving on road than biking ... roads are for cars and motorcycles, not for bicycles.

I would like to see a source for that. One of the first pages that I found on Google reads: "However, there is no reliable source of exposure data to really answer this question: we don't know how many miles bicyclists travel each year, and we don't know how long it takes them to cover these miles (and thus how long they are exposed to motor vehicle traffic)." [bicyclinginfo.org] .

Moreover, I think one of the points of TFA is that the bike infrastructures (i.e., bike lanes) is being expanded, which is likely to reduce the accident rate (per bike-mile) by quite a bit.

Re:Biking is better (2)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 2 years ago | (#41648973)

It's healthier and it's more fun.

Sure it increases your fitness levels, but with all the smog and pollution I very much doubt that cycling or jogging to work is actually healthier for you.

A number of studies have shown there is more air pollution inside cars than on bike lanes. The physical activity causes bikers to inhale more air and spend more time outside (unless there is a traffic jam), but the volume of toxic particles per km looks to be equivalent.

Re:Biking is better (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#41648755)

It's healthier and it's more fun

It being fun is a matter of taste. Personally I enjoy driving a car much more.

Global Warming is Junk Science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648561)

"Changing attitudes about cars — caused by climate change — are helping" - that sentence, right there, is where you left science behind. How did you draw that conclusion, exactly. Citations please.

Climate Change my arse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648577)

Changing attitudes due to ever increasing taxation on the working man might be a better way to describe it.

Not the helmet laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648581)

So apparently, despite the opinions stated in a recent Slashdot article, helmet laws have very little impact on whether people ride bicycles. It's all about fuel prices. All we need to do to get people biking is to send gasoline prices through the roof.

gotta stay healthy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648585)

For me, at least, biking to work us also about avoiding atrophy. Sitting in front of dual monitors for 8+ hours each day does nothing positive for my figure, so in addition to saving on gas, cycling is helping to save muscle mass.

I suggest that you try it, too.

Just Think (3, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | about 2 years ago | (#41648587)

If you had the same fuel prices as we do in the UK, your "obesity epidemic" would be over,
($8.50 to $9 per US gallon depending on where you live)

Re:Just Think (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648603)

Yet I keep hearing about the obesity epidemic in the UK - taxation and scaremongering are NOT the ways to change behaviour.

Oh Snap! Gonoff Got Pwned!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648743)

Nice to see the idiot anti-americanisms get utterly smacked down by facts. Congrats, AC for utterly bitchsmacking Gonoff. That should shut him up good.

Re:Just Think (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#41649043)

The obesity rate for the United States is around 30% whereas it is 23% for the UK. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity [nationmaster.com] . Other metrics tell a similar story. See e.g http://www.oecd.org/els/healthpoliciesanddata/theeconomicsofprevention.htm [oecd.org] . This puts Great Britain as one of the highest obesity rates of any country in the world but still not nearly as bad as the United States.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648631)

Shame most of our miles of cycle paths, including the national ones, are just white lines painted in the road, which cars ignore, as there isn't even a fine for driving along in one...

Re:Just Think (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 2 years ago | (#41648641)

> I'll see your Constitution and raise you a Queen

I'll see your Queen and raise you a KimJongIl

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648661)

If you had the same fuel prices as we do in the UK, your "obesity epidemic" would be over,

($8.50 to $9 per US gallon depending on where you live)

I wish that were true. And I wish we weren't so spread out where biking would make sense - commuting 16 - 20 miles one way on a bike isn't feasible. And selling homes and moving closer to work also isn't feasible especially with the housing market still pretty much in the shitter.

And even then, with people's propensity for displaying status with automobiles - especially here in the US, you are what you drive - even if fuel went up that much, I think most folks would pay it.

Re:Just Think (4, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#41648761)

And I wish we weren't so spread out where biking would make sense - commuting 16 - 20 miles one way on a bike isn't feasible.

Yes it is. 15 miles one way is exactly my commute, I use a heavy mountainbike and I am fat. A lighter person on a light road bike would have it even easier.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649035)

As a fellow fat guy who would like to ride his bike to work (not road, but not mtn... hybrid i think?) which is 12 miles one way, how did you work your way up to 30 miles a day, and how long is your average commute? (one way)

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649171)

You want to consider the quality of the roads, and then shop for tires. For a commuter bike, solid tires make a lot of sense. You *can* patch a flat in a few minutes and make up the time difference, but it's not a lot of fun. Especially in adverse weather.

Road bikes are nice and light; if you live in a hilly area this may be a consideration. If you expect to ride across lots of rough pavement, gravel, and glass fragments (bottles, mostly), you may want a mountain bike.

The thing with biking is that how hard you work is mostly dependent on how fast you want to go. If you give yourself two hours to bike 12 miles, it's not going to be that challenging. If you want to do that in a single hour you're going to have to be in pretty good shape.

By changing the gearing you can go pretty fast on a bike -- up to highway speeds. Generally you want a shell around you at that point, and the description of "bicycle" becomes a little misleading, but as long as you don't mind tons of torque to get rolling, you can maintain high speeds. The question is, how often do you have to stop? If you have to wait at red lights every few blocks, you're not going to make good time.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648707)

Strange, the UK is at the top of all metrics for obesity in Europe:
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Overweight_and_obesity_-_BMI_statistics [europa.eu]
"The highest proportions of obese women were recorded in the United Kingdom (23.9 %), Malta (21.1 %), Latvia (20.9 %) and Estonia (20.5 % in 2006), and of men in Malta (24.7 %), the United Kingdom (22.1 %), Hungary (21.4 %) and the Czech Republic (18.4 %). "
But don't feel bad, this is happening in all "western" countries.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648813)

Interestingly, by the standard metric (the thoroughly discredited BMI) many professional sports people (who are amongst the fittest about) are classed as obese.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648957)

BMI doesn't include muscle/fat percentages. Muscles are heavier per volume. But professional athletes are a minor fraction of the population, statistically they make no impact.

  See link:
"The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of a person’s weight relative to their height that correlates fairly well with body fat. The BMI is accepted as the most useful measure of obesity for adults when only weight and height data are available. "

Take a look at most people who are obese according to the BMI index, it is instantly apparent if they are obese or athletic.

Re:Just Think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648977)

Are you implying professional sports people live healthy?

Re:Just Think (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41648837)

It has nothing to do with gas for me. It has to do with other costs: car cost, maintenance, taxes, insurance. My $700 bike with free yearly tuneups for life saves me a ton. Gas for a drive 5.1 miles one way is really negligible compared to the other costs.

Re:Just Think (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648927)

The price of crude is pretty consistent around the globe, as are the fixed costs of refining said crude to gasoline and other products. Your fuel prices are the same as the US's. What is different is that your government taxes gasoline at about 200%, $6 per gallon. Strip out all the taxes and gasoline costs around $3 a gallon [ca.gov] virtually everywhere on earth.

They had the right idea back in '78, The Price of Oil and Natural Gas Should Be Regulated by the Fed. Govt. [amazon.com]

Re:Just Think (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41648969)

It might help... but I'm sure it'd be far from over.

Tracking (4, Funny)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 2 years ago | (#41648601)

Tracking commuters has been on the increase with the use of license-plate scaners. When you get them to use a bicycle, that advantage is no longer an option.

So, either we need a very fast computer system to track bicycles based on the images, or we need legislation to ensure every bike has a proper license plate that can be scanned and tracked. Also, a locked down holding container should be placed on each bicycle for the Feds to place their GPS equipment. Last but not least, a mandatory encircled cross on the rider's coat which would make a remote killshots easier. You never know when you need to set an example of environmentalists.

Re:Tracking (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41648787)

Tracking commuters has been on the increase with the use of license-plate scaners. When you get them to use a bicycle, that advantage is no longer an option

Bicycles in Belgium used to have had a license plates:
Some samples: http://s.houghi.org/y4jq5k [houghi.org]
Each year there was a different shape and color.

So don't be alarmed when (not if) they start doing this.

Re:Tracking (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41648819)

You don't need a locked down container for holding the GPS gear as you infer. Just make it sticky, remove the seat-post, push it to the bottom, and replace the seat-post. Even cheap embedded RFIDs passing near to readers can be useful, for tolls and the like. In places where bike theft is high, police are even tagging bikes with RFIDs as I have described, so if the bikes are stolen, a police officer walking past with a reader might find them.

Also facial-recognition is getting freakishly better all the time. Have you tried Picasa on your own computer, free from Google? But nevermind, what with this talk of killshots and all; but of course you jest. Disclaimer, I'm not old enough for a wheelchair myself and don't have such a license, nor own a gun license or gun.

Besides, women (...or to each their own) riding bicycles just look better, don't you think? Personally, I find two woman on a bike even nicer to see, and I don't necessarily view them as environmentalists when I do.

How do you Americans do it? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648605)

Here in central Europe, the city centers are tight, and so it's easy and quick to get everywhere, while with cars, you barely fit through the tight streets and it's a parking nightmare. So pretty much everyone I know uses a bicycle or public transport by default, and only takes the car if it's further away, there's something to transport, or there's another good reason.

But your cities and roads are far more spread out. And the environment is rather hostile to bike riders, from what I've been told. (Partially because apparently, many bike riders are rather crazy themselves and because the bike lanes are badly designed. [We have that too, though.])

So: How do you do it? Because that sounds a lot more frustrating than what we've got.
(And if you add the weight problem... Although that would probably quickly improve for bike riders.)

P.S.: Was there ever a time when people rode the bike to everywhere, like Marty McFly? Or are those just TV stories?

Re:How do you Americans do it? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41648715)

P.S.: Was there ever a time when people rode the bike to everywhere, like Marty McFly? Or are those just TV stories?

Donno Marty McFly.. "yes" in the USA vaguely from 1895 to 1905. Even as a 5 digit /. UID that is somewhat before my time. You can easily play definition games to get a "no" answer.

Re:How do you Americans do it? (3, Funny)

baegucb (18706) | about 2 years ago | (#41648843)

When I was a kid, a long long time ago, I asked my mother if they had bikes when she was a kid. She said of course they did. And I unthinkingly said, oh yeah, they had them in the 1800s.

Re:How do you Americans do it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648897)

... But your cities and roads are far more spread out.

It's very different in different parts of the USA. Here in the suburbs outside Buffalo, NY, the land is mostly flat. It's easy to cycle, but as you say things are more spread out. I've been making about half my local trips by bike for the last 30 years...when the weather is above freezing.

On the plus side, starting about 20(?) years ago, New York State roads (major roads) have mostly been rebuilt with wide shoulders/edges (average about 1.5 meters, marked by a white line) which is quite good for cycling. Most of the buildings are set far back from the road, so it's not a big problem to make the roads wider. As they are rebuilt now, many shoulders are being marked as bike lanes. A nearby overpass on a higher speed road has some features that are very scary for cycling--so I emailed to the cycling coordinator at the local Department of Transportation office. Within a few days he had taken a look and designed changes for the next time the road will be repaved (a couple of years from now--fingers crossed for a good result).

Many local stores, banks and other utility destinations have "airlock" doors with room to leave a bike inside (between the two sets of doors). I don't lock my expensive bike, because it's inside, off the street. It might help that it's a "friendly" looking small-wheel Alex Moulton bike, not an aggressive mountain bike. The supermarkets (food stores) have plenty of room to take the bike inside and use it instead of a shopping cart.

There are still some problems that limit utility cyclists to the hard core. Probably the major one is that car drivers have not been taught to respect cyclists, so we really have to look out for ourselves. I used to motorcycle all the time and bring that experience to cycling--I'm willing to be aggressive and take a lane when I need to (not often). County and town roads (not maintained by the State DOT) usually don't have the wide shoulder, but they also have less and slower traffic. Another problem is ice in the winter, lots of freeze-thaw cycles with our weather. The road crews don't always clear the snow & ice from the edge of the road--when it's like this, I don't even attempt to cycle.

I've tried utility cycling in other states and often the major roads have little (or no) hard edge/shoulder, often with a nasty drop off to the gravel or dirt on the edge -- no consideration for cycling at all. Maybe others will comment on cycling conditions in their area?

Re:How do you Americans do it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649121)

Here in Lincoln NE the biking is actually pretty good. There are actual bike trails that criss-cross the city. Most of them are old railroad lines that have been converted so there are even a number of bridges over arterial roadways. Other bridges have been added as well. There are some bike trails that follow the road like a sidewalk, but are significantly wider. The rail lines are the best as many of them have few to no hills, at least until you get out of town. If you go downtown it is mandatory that you ride on the road, but the bike lanes are a patchwork, starting and stopping seemingly randomly sometimes. I avoid downtown on bike, but UNL seems to have a lot of brave students.

There are also bicycling trails leaving the city going a good distance. You can head north east and almost make it to Omaha via wooded bike trails. I guess they are having issues getting right of way to connect the last few miles of two trails. The state dot does not want a trail next to the road, so that forces bikers ONTO the road. They site safety and liability. Go figure. There is also a trail headed south, right now it runs 30 something miles to Beatrice, and they are connecting it to another trail coming from Marysville KS. When done it will be closer to 70 miles, the impression I have now of it is that it is a done deal, it just needs to be finished.

Bonus: Lincoln NE is for the most part flat.

I've been bike commuting since 2002 (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41648637)

Ten years, and not because of gas prices, but because it's fun, and healthy.

In 1999, I was 250lbs, had cholesterol over 300, moderate to severe hypertension, and was pre-diabetic. I was taking medications for all, and additional medications for other complications that were the result of my Americanized lifestyle.

It started with walking to work, 3 miles each way. Then expanded into running 5Ks, and eventually cycling.

Now, I'm 165lbs, and not on any medications, with normal vitals across the board. I ride my bike to work at least 3 days per week, usually going far enough out of my way to ride 30-40 miles every day - and 60-70/day on weekends.

I think it's a travesty to sell cycling to work as a solution to a temporary problem, because people will quit the moment the problem goes away, or there is some other reason not to. Living an active lifestyle that includes daily exercise and human-powered commuting also helps solve America's obesity problem (and spiraling-out-of-control health costs) permanently. It's a shame more people won't pick it up, and that we can't bring ourselves to design towns and cities to allow for it.

It costs far less to add 3 feet of bike lane to a road than it does to treat 1000 cases of advanced diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and other life-ending diseases. The government and the taxpayer have a vested interest in policies that facilitate people being healthy when they reach Medicare age - not to mention the people themselves who still have to pay a heavy price for their lack of health.

Re:I've been bike commuting since 2002 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648901)

As somebody who generally walks or takes the bus pretty much everywhere, I have to say that perhaps they should actually plan the streets for people that walk. Walkers are considered last if they're even considered at all when planning streets. Traffic signals ignore you if you haven't pressed the button prior to the light changing. Why it doesn't automatically give you a walk signal is beyond me.

Smug git alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648937)

I'm aged 61 and 210 (probably 35 more than my doctor thinks that I should be) , have sickeningly normal to low results in every metric (cholesterol, BP, blood sugars, liver function, rest pulse and everything else). I had a heart valve replaced two years ago (mechanical due to my projected life span, so the only drug that I take daily is Coumadin to reduce clotting potential around the valve) and even my surgeon and physician could only point to congenital causes.

We have been conditioned to believe that ANYTHING that is wrong with us is our own fault - whilst yours may or may not have been, it is disingenous of you to suggest that it applies to everybody.

Re:I've been bike commuting since 2002 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649119)

In 1999, I was 250lbs, had cholesterol over 300, moderate to severe hypertension, and was pre-diabetic. I was taking medications for all, and additional medications for other complications that were the result of my Americanized lifestyle.

I'm 30 years old, 6 foot 2 inches tall, and my weight has been a constant 150 +/-5lbs for the past decade. Except last week when I discovered my weight had fallen to 136lbs. I spend all day in front of a computer, and the only healthy activity I have is walking halfway across parking lots when I can't find a good space. I also smoke a pack a day and drink massive amounts of sugar and caffeine.

I've been to a hospital fewer than 6 times in my life (including being born). I don't use any medications, or painkillers.

I eat an average of two meals a day, because usually I don't have enough of an appetite to eat more frequently. I just pretty much eat what I feel like, at whatever time of day (sausages with melted cheese on top is a recent favorite).

The point I'm trying to make is, some lifestyles are impossible for some people. I think the many insignificant events of a person's life outweigh the two or three obvious-in-retrospect issues. There's no such thing as a universally healthy lifestyle, just the absence. Blanket advice is usually wrong.

Bicycles don't pay taxes for roads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648639)

You end up with a dumbed down decrepit system where people are walled into urban islands. You're easy to control and manipulate. Try packing up an leaving when it's gotten to the point the highways connecting those islands are deemed too expensive since as pointed out earlier bicycles don't pay taxes for roads.

Wrong (5, Informative)

stomv (80392) | about 2 years ago | (#41648723)

Bicyclists darn sure do pay taxes for roads.
Interstates are paid roughly 100% with federal gasoline taxes. Bicyclists don't pay those taxes, but don't use interstates either.
State roads, depending on the state, are paid approx 10% - 50% with state gasoline taxes, the rest with general revenue. Bicyclists do pay general revenue.
Local roads -- which are most roads -- are paid for with state/fed grants and a big chunk of local taxes. The most common local tax is property tax, and bicyclists typically live somewhere, and therefore pay the tax directly based on the home they own or indirectly through their rent.

If gas taxes paid 100% of the road maintenance costs, US gas taxes would rival the UK.

Re:Wrong (3, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#41648789)

Besides, bicycles don't damage the road, they are far too light for that. Their ground pressure is similar to a pedestrian.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648839)

Everything will cause damage, if there's enough of it - it may take longer, but to suggest that the impact is zero is crazy to say the least.

Re:Wrong (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648971)

The damage caused by bikes and pedestrians does however pale compared to the damage done by weather and "normal" aging.

A normal road used by pedestrians and cyclists will not break down significantly earlier than a normal road that is not used at all...

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649073)

Everything will cause damage, if there's enough of it - it may take longer, but to suggest that the impact is zero is crazy to say the least.

Road damage is proportional to the weight of the vehicle...raised to the fifth or sixth power (not a typo, damage is proportional to weight^5 or weight^6). Bicycles and cars don't damage roads, it's almost all caused by trucks...and freeze-thaw cycles in colder areas. Here's one paper summary (sorry, the full paper is behind a paywall).

Re:Wrong (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649095)

Everything will cause damage, if there's enough of it - it may take longer, but to suggest that the impact is zero is crazy to say the least.

Road damage is proportional to the weight of the vehicle...raised to the fifth or sixth power (not a typo, damage is proportional to weight^5 or weight^6). Bicycles and cars don't damage roads, it's almost all caused by trucks...and freeze-thaw cycles in colder areas. Here's one paper summary (sorry, the full paper is behind a paywall).

whoops, here's the link:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00423118908968916#preview [tandfonline.com]

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649151)

Pedantic ass, fine its near zero impact when compared to vehicles that you get inside of.

Re:Wrong (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649149)

Indeed. Studies back in the 50's showed that vehicle induced road damage is proportional to the fourth power of axle loading. When people start screaming that bicycles should be taxed "fairly", I suggest that they're taxed at 1$/year, with the provision that all other vehicles are taxed proportionally.

Columbus OH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648693)

When I came to graduate school 7 year ago, about three of us in my 40 unit apartment block had bikes. Now I count more than 35 locked to various trees out my window. (and others store them indoors) The landlord is going to add bike racks. We don't even have bike lanes in our area and it is quite dangerous to ride bikes in this part of town. However, we don't drive the 2.5 miles to campus anymore. We walk, bike, or bus.

Winter Biking? (4, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 2 years ago | (#41648699)

I live in the Helsinki area in Finland, and while for the most part Bike access is OK it seems the winters are almost impossible to solve. I used to bike all year round, and while it's quite enjoyable with the right equipment I kept running into the problem that the roads were plowed first and the bike lanes much later in the day, or sometimes not at all.

Does anyone live in a city where the winter biking thing actually works? (One with snowfall, that is.) Just curious, really.

Re:Winter Biking? (2)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#41648769)

Not personally, but I know people who do. They use Nokian tyres.

Re:Winter Biking? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#41648793)

Oh, stop complaining and come see how things are outside major cities: you'll be lucky if the lanes are plowed once a week!

Re:Winter Biking? (3, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 2 years ago | (#41648885)

It works here, in the south of the Netherlands. In my city, bus routes and bike lanes are the first places where snow is removed, often within a few hours after it fell. Also because a lot of people continue biking, even if the snow hasn't been removed, there will be tracks where the people who cycled before you have crushed the snow to the point where it melts. However, our winter day temperatures don't often stay below zero for more than a few days at a time, so a snow period seldom lasts for more than a week. I once visited the middle of Finland at the end of the winter and I think the snow that falls there during the winter doesn't melt until spring; I don't know if that is the case for the Helsinki area as well.

Re:Winter Biking? (1)

hankwang (413283) | about 2 years ago | (#41649089)

there will be tracks where the people who cycled before you have crushed the snow to the point where it melts

Compressing the snow will only make it melt if the roads were salted just before the snow fell - which is usually the case here in Netherlands on main cycling routes when freezing temperatures with precipitation are expected. I have cycled plenty of distance over unsalted snowy roads; it's quite doable (even at 20 km/h or 12 mph) as long as you brake well in advance of sharp turns and you don't use knobby tires which are counterproductive with snow. (The tricky bit is when the snow has started to melt and then freezes again, though).

I used to live and bike in Southern Sweden, where often they don't sprinkle salt (less effective at low temperatures), but rather fine gravel, which also works fine.

Re:Winter Biking? (2)

Tseax (193552) | about 2 years ago | (#41648903)

What works for me in Canada is the so-called Fat Bike. I ride a model called a "Moonlander" which can be fitted with studs for the icier city riding.

Re:Winter Biking? (3, Insightful)

Karljohan (807381) | about 2 years ago | (#41648939)

Norrköping, Sweden, biking during the winter usually woks fine. The bike lanes use to be plowed quite quickly, but you need winter tires.

Re:Winter Biking? (2)

siouxgeonz (1589541) | about 2 years ago | (#41648941)

Works here reasonably well because our roads are less traveled... http://www.fcgov.com/streets/snow-additional.php [fcgov.com] Fort Collins does a good job, and Minneapolis has a large year-round cycling commuting community (evidence here: http://tcstreetsforpeople.org/node/1348 [tcstreetsforpeople.org] ) , as well as Chicago, Illinois per http://bikewinter.org/ [bikewinter.org]

Re:Winter Biking? (4, Informative)

neBelcnU (663059) | about 2 years ago | (#41648979)

Minneapolis/St. Paul: It's becoming more common to see folks using incredibly fat-tired mountain bikes in all weathers, but regular bikes (even road bikes) are now seen every winter, even below 0F. Credit to determined riders and cities that make an effort. Bike trails are plowed by specialized equipment, although at a delay like you mentioned, riders still venture out on the streets. Thanks to all for using bike lights, even during the day.

Re:Winter Biking? (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 2 years ago | (#41649037)

Does anyone live in a city where the winter biking thing actually works? (One with snowfall, that is.) Just curious, really.

It works reasonably well in Copenhagen. Usually they start clearing the roads and bike lanes early in the morning. If it is snowing heavily at that time, however, it can get pretty difficult to traverse the lane.

Re:Winter Biking? (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41649111)

Bicycling Magazine ranked Minneapolis the #1 US city for biking. I've never been there, but I've heard they get the occasional bit of snow.

  http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/1-bike-city-minneapolis [bicycling.com]

Google for some articles and videos and you'll see how they do it.

Not only Biking will be profitable.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648725)

...Rail commuting, high speed train commuting, etc.
As soon people realise that it is cheaper to commute by train, they will switch to it.
Europe has a head start in that area: Cologne is part of the commuting area of Frankfurt, Lille (north of France) is withing commuting area of Paris and London, and so on. And more than often they combine bike and rail.

gibe? (0)

julian67 (1022593) | about 2 years ago | (#41648731)

"Both findings gibe with the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey"

Gibe doesn't mean what the author thinks it means, in fact it's not all that far from the polar opposite.

"WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) (wn)
gibe
        n 1: an aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile
                  and intended to have a telling effect; "his parting shot
                  was `drop dead'"; "she threw shafts of sarcasm"; "she takes
                  a dig at me every chance she gets" [syn: shot, shaft,
                  slam, dig, barb, jibe, gibe]
        v 1: be compatible, similar or consistent; coincide in their
                  characteristics; "The two stories don't agree in many
                  details"; "The handwriting checks with the signature on the
                  check"; "The suspect's fingerprints don't match those on
                  the gun" [syn: match, fit, correspond, check,
                  jibe, gibe, tally, agree] [ant: disaccord,
                  disagree, discord]
        2: laugh at with contempt and derision; "The crowd jeered at the
              speaker" [syn: jeer, scoff, flout, barrack, gibe]"

Re:gibe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648801)

[syn: match, fit, correspond, check, jibe, gibe, tally, agree]

Are you retarded?

...and so it begins (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648749)

The human race's reserves of cheap, easily available energy are running out. We've had energy crises before. They were political. This time, they are geological. Sorry folks, you better get used to the idea that your kids will bike to school and maybe get a horse instead of a car if you are rich. We'll still be here, we'll still know about germ theory and we'll still be able to build electronics. But air travel will be an ultra-luxury, or maybe even a legend your kids won't quite believe.

Re:...and so it begins (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 2 years ago | (#41649057)

There is plenty of potential renewable energy and it's not prohibitively expensive either, just not as cheap as fossil fuels used to be. The problem is that our infrastructure is built around cheap fossil fuel and will have to be refitted around slightly less cheap renewable energy. The transition has already started, but is still at a very slow rate; I doubt that we can complete the transition in time at the current speed.

Anyway, your kids should definitely bike to school, but for their health and not because you cannot afford to take them in your electric car.

Re:...and so it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649085)

That's right. It won't be as cheap, and it won't be as practical. That electric car may seem practical today, but how do you handle everyone having one? That still requires a massive infrastructure to build the things and distribute them (sorry, we won't 3D print cars in our living room, that's just delusional). Who is going to change our electrical grid to handle the increased load? Where's the copper for the wires going to come from? Where's that energy coming from?

You still think we'll magically just transition to another form of energy and the party goes on. Nope.

if you are riding a bike , then where are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648895)

you gonna put the dismembered hookers ? bikes have no trunk?
no self-respecting serial killer would be seen dead huffing and puffing down the road on an old rusty huffy,
  maybe they will get a little trailer ansd pull that around?
dosnt seem too likely

captcha entice ?! lmfao

Trams (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#41648917)

L.A, like many cities, are paying dearly for getting rid of their tram systems. I'd imagine that not all work places have a shower either.

Unexamined Lives and All That (5, Insightful)

dangle (1381879) | about 2 years ago | (#41648929)

It took me a while to make the decision to bike to work. In retrospect, my whole life was colored by car culture. They're beautiful machines, and my friends and I spent large amounts of time talking about them and using them.

I also finally realized that our understandable desire to make our lives more comfortable and effortless is ultimately unhealthy.

All my notions and excuses left me, and I've been biking to work every day, unless snow and ice preclude it.

It's such an amazing way to start and end the day, even though it's not glamorized on TV.

On business a few years ago, a nice young man who was shuttling me into downtown Copenhagen in a company car described to me his intense interest in buying his own car, despite the tax disincentives to do so. And China is abandoning their bike culture, making single occupancy vehicle trips a sign of progress. And as an American I've found myself thinking: "It's not obligatory to copy every mistake we've made, feel free to learn from our bad examples."

Bizzarro World (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41648987)

When Bush is president and gas hits $2 a gallon, Bush hates the poor and black people and is raising gas prices to punish the poor. When it hits $4 a gallon under Obama, the president has no control of gas prices and high gas prices are actually a benefit.

For bonus credit, take note of all the stories around now that say renting a house is smarter than buying because they are covering up for how completely Obama destroyed the economy.

Gee, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41649079)

Do people also make bathroom trips less, when they eat less too?

Common Sense.

Newsworthy? Puh-lease

Correlation =! Causation (3, Interesting)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | about 2 years ago | (#41649107)

Just because they built bike lanes, and see more cyclists, does not quantify, as well as verify, that it is because of gas prices.

Many people will pay the high gas prices, but cycle for exercise.
Many people will pay the high gas prices, but cycle out of reduced traffic time.

They can just as easily quantify any of that as NOT being the reason, as they could quantify gas prices as being the cause.

Thank you Obama, Bernanke, congress, etc. (1, Flamebait)

Tomster (5075) | about 2 years ago | (#41649167)

Over the past 40+ years, in a slow and ongoing process, your fiscal and monetary policies have been destroying our buying power, your crony capitalism has bailed out the too-big-to-fail corporations and allowed the Big Industries/Corporations (finance, food, education, health, military, etc.) to influence the competitive landscape in their favor, your ever-increasing laws and regulations make it more and more expensive for companies to hire workers and raise their salaries/wages, and your social policies are enabling an increasing number of Americans to be non-productive members of society.

There are other contributors, but thanks to the above what we're experiencing, economically, is a slow death by a thousand cuts. I'm making a good bit more today than I was 20 years ago, yet my lifestyle is largely unchanged. The stuff I need to buy is a lot more expensive today than it was then (with the exception of housing; I made a couple of good decisions there). Some of my friends aren't so fortunate; they've seen their lifestyles decline.

But don't take my word for it; do your own research. Like me, you'll likely be surprised, shocked, and dismayed at what you find.

Thomas

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