Tag Archive for drugged driving

Guilty verdict in Scarpa DUI murder trial, bicycle parts in short supply due to bike boom, and a look back at LA bike history

That didn’t take long.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, 27-year old Mission Viejo resident Stephen Taylor Scarpa was convicted of murder for running down Costa Mesa fire captain Mike Kreza in 2018, as Kreza rode his bike on Alicia Parkway while training for a triathlon.

Or rather, on the sidewalk next to the parkway, which still didn’t keep him safe from Scarpa as he drove with a veritable cornucopia of drugs in his system after three days of partying.

According to the Orange County Register, Scarpa got at least some of his drugs from the same pill-prescribing Dr. Feelgood who allegedly supplied the gunman responsible for killing 13 people in the Borderline Bar massacre.

Which puts at least 14 deaths at the good doctor’s bloody feet.

The DA confirmed that Scarpa had participated in a drunk driving prevention program, which justified the murder charge.

Scarpa faces 15 years to life behind bars when he’s sentenced on December 10th, after jurors spent just four hours deliberating before reaching a verdict.

Which is just enough time to select a foreman, go over the judge’s instructions, and take a vote.

This is what our anonymous courtroom correspondent had to say.

Closing arguments for the Scarpa case were heard this morning. Alas, I am graveyard tonight, so I only got the morning events.

I haven’t written up the closing arguments because I’m a zombie, but they involved the Defense displaying an optical illusion, and the People reiterating every bit of evidence presented. Both sides defined legal terms and invoked the importance of impartiality and justice.

I don’t expect a lengthy deliberation.

I report with cringe that I previously misidentified the Deputy DA as Michael Feldman. I dunno how, it’s Dan Feldman in all my notes.

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Further testimony provided last week by OCSD investigators revealed a number of pill vials found at Scarpa’s home and in the minivan searched after the collision. Each prescription was in Scarpa’s name. The gabapentin prescription was ostensibly to control seizures after Scarpa had sustained a TBI. (Consider: a man prone to seizures due to physical brain trauma, and under the influence of gaba, who believes he is ever okay to drive.)

The Defense asked the traffic investigator on the witness stand to confirm that a motorist traveling on Alicia Parkway at or near the posted speed limit would need only a fraction of a second to veer off course and traverse the lateral distance covered by Mr. Scarpa’s Windstar, and that this could occur if the driver merely fell asleep. He went on to bring up Scarpa’s previous collision, in which he had “blacked out” and smashed a parked car or two, and for which he was never charged.

The Defense attempted to have the traffic investigator admit that Scarpa had no priors. The People’s objection was sustained. The Defense then asked vaguely about Scarpa’s driving record, and after another objection, the parties briefly retreated to chambers. Upon returning, the Defense had the investigator confirm Scarpa’s lack of prior DUI arrests. For his part, Mr. Scarpa looked hopeful that “never havin’ been caught before” reflected well on him.

The People asked about the violation of CVC 21107 (an “unsafe turning movement”), to which the Defense objected. The DA changed tack, asking instead whether the cause of the collision was the Defendant’s use of drugs prior to driving. The Defense objected, citing a demand for speculation on the deputy’s part, and the Judge sustained. The seething DA’s frustration was evident, and finally both the People and the Defense again headed to chambers with His Honor. Upon returning, the People reworded the question, and the witness answered in the affirmative: yes, intoxication was absolutely a possible direct cause.

The People immediately confirmed with the traffic investigator that Scarpa had been at fault in his prior collision, and although he had not been criminally charged, the DMV chose to revoke his privilege to drive. In fact, the DMV paperwork had been discovered in a search of Scarpa’s home, along with vials of assorted prescription pills.

The maximum lawful speed at the site of the collision is 50mph. Cyclists are protected from errant two-ton machines by a 2 millimeter high wall of thermoplastic, or, if they feel this is not enough, also by an 8-inch high concrete curb. Mr. Kreza had been riding on the sidewalk prior to his untimely landing in the number three lane of Alicia Parkway. He had not been wearing a helmet, and his dad cap was found among the embankment’s shrubs.

People’s Exhibit #33 was the toxicological exam performed on blood drawn from Mr. Scarpa four hours after the collision. The OC Crime Lab pathologist, whose thesis had been on the subject of gabapentin, expounded as questioned on the use and abuse of each drug found in Scarpa’s system, and on the effects and side effects of each. The People specifically asked whether gabapentin was useful to prevent blackouts. In fact, it is not.

The People brought Mr. Scarpa’s former colleague to the stand, an HR employee of Beachside Recovery, an addiction treatment facility where Scarpa had been employed as a Behavioral Health Technician. As part of her duties in human resources at the facility, she was responsible for “onboarding” Mr. Scarpa, including training and situating him as a new hire. To this end, she made it clear that the workplace had a zero tolerance policy for drug use and required random drug testing. People’s Exhibit was Beachside Recovery’s job description document, which stresses the importance of sobriety in carrying out the duties required of BHT’s (including driving), and which Scarpa signed. After several months of employment, Scarpa resigned suddenly, stating that he had relapsed.

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In 2011, Scarpa’s high school held an “Every 15 Minutes” event. As part of the event, a “memorial” video is created. A video montage shows DUI crash “victims” in happier times. A young lady sprints down the track straight towards the camera. As the image freezes, her name and date of death caption her smiling face. Another pretty girl dances with her friends. Her eyes lock on the camera. Her gentle smile twinkles, frozen in time as her name and death date appear on screen. A healthy young man swims powerfully toward the camera. He splashes up poolside, elbows resting on the concrete, beaming broadly. As his name pops up, jurors’ eyes whip over towards the defendant.

The video captures the aftermath of a simulated DUI collision, set up at the campus. Participating are local law enforcement and fire agencies. Scenes show the Jaws of Life in action. Shocked, gawking students. A moulaged young Stephen Scarpa. A “dead” victim immediately tarped over. Empty beer cans in the car. The teenage suspect breathalyzed and handcuffed. The ride in the back of a police cruiser. The tearful call from the jail phone. The tiny holding cell. The ambulance transport of an unresponsive young patient. Blood. Futile chest compressions. The sobbing mom in the ER.

The video is poignant and there was sniffling in the courtroom.

Throughout the school day, an actor dressed as the Grim Reaper comes into classrooms to collect the dead. The crash victim’s obituary is read aloud. (People’s Exhibit #37 is the obit written by Stephen’s mom.) That student is removed from school for the rest of the day, and a black shroud is placed over his or her desk.

The “dead” don’t return home that night. They’re taken for an overnight field trip to a local hotel, where speakers inform them of the statistics, dangers, and consequences of impaired driving. The kids retreat to their rooms, where they write a “Dear Mom/Dad, Today I Died” letter to their parents. Back at home, the parents are also writing to their “dead” child. The next day, the students gather for an assembly. The dead and their parents share the stage with a casket, and read their letters in front of the entire student body.

The video wasn’t shown in its entirety in the courtroom. As played at the school assembly, it concludes with the conviction of the teenage perpetrator. In questioning Esperanza High’s activities director on the witness stand, the Defense inexplicably pointed out that this fictional defendant had received (don’t be shocked) eight months for her felony DUI and felony manslaughter charges. The People, who had chosen to play the video in its truncated form, then inexplicably objected. His Honor overruled, and the Defense went on to ask the witness to confirm that the fictional killer had not been charged with murder.

After both sides rested their cases, the Defense requested a dismissal. His Honor did not hesitate to reject this motion.

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Today’s common theme — the effect pandemic bike boom is having on the global supply chain.

Despite an ongoing worldwide shortage of bike parts, at least some ebike prices are starting to come down. Others are boosting prices while improving quality, like this Chinese ebike foldie.

Meanwhile, Cycling Tips offers advice on how to keep your bike running, despite the parts shortage.

And Britain’s biggest bike retailer says the shortages in the global supply chain are dragging on its bicycling business.

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Evidently, dooring is nothing new.

And neither is decorating your bike for a parade.

Never mind that one of those guys with the flower-draped bikes could be your great — or maybe great, great — grandfather.

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This is who we share the road with, as police look for yet another, particularly heartless, coward.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

New York’s Department of Transportation chief won’t commit to whether people can legally lock their bikes to street signs, even after the police confiscated a number of bicycles they claimed were locked to signs illegally. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the city’s mayor declared an end to car culture;  we’ve already seen how that worked out in Los Angeles.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Leading GOP California recall candidate and conservative talk show host Larry Elder was hustled into an SUV after a failed egging from a bike-riding, gorilla-masked woman, who needs to work on her aim.

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Local

The Long Beach Marathon says it’s quickly selling out; the race is preceded by a 20-mile bike ride along the marathon course.

Billions actress Malin Akerman is one of us, as she went for a ride through the streets of LA on a massive fat tire ebike with her son on the back.

 

State

Cypress police will conduct a bicycle and pedestrian safety operation this Saturday — but during the day, not at night, regardless of what the headline says. Ride to the letter of the law until you cross the city limits, so you’re not the one who gets ticketed. And remember the law allowing bike riders to roll stops may have passed the legislature, but it’s still not legal until the governor signs it. 

Traffic deaths went up in San Francisco despite the pandemic-light traffic, just as they did in Los Angeles.

General Motors credits bike-riding employees with working to ensure the company’s autonomous cars are programed to be aware of people on bicycles as they test them on the streets of San Francisco. If they’ve cracked the code for recognizing bike riders, let’s hope they share it with the other self-driving car makers who’ve struggled with exactly that.

 

National

Pink Bike once again takes a very tongue-in-cheek look at things that could have happened in the bike world last month, but probably didn’t. Unless they did.

A Colorado website offers four routes to experience the state’s spectacular fall colors, whether you’re on a roadie, ebike, gravel bike or mountain bike. Speaking of which, an Aspen writer calls for opening up the area’s singletrack trails to ebikes “before we’re all too old” to ride them.

The former owners of the now-defunct American bike brand Ross Bicycles pled guilty to hoarding PPE in Oklahoma last year, agreeing to pay a $1 million fine for buying over $1.2 million surgical masks from China, then reselling them to the state at a 900% markup; meanwhile, the Ross family reclaimed their original trademark for the bike brand after the federal trademark office ruled it had been abandoned.

A cruiser bikemaker came to the rescue of stranded students in Rochester NY, donating around 150 bicycles, helmets and locks to students and parents at three schools affected by a shortage of school bus drivers.

Brooklyn bike riders — and their dogs — get an early jump on the official opening of new bike lanes on the iconic Brooklyn, with one pronouncing it “stinky,” while his dog gave it three and a half paws. Out of four, presumably.

New Yorkers scrambled for alternate forms of transportation after the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded subway system, setting a new record for usage on the city’s Citi Bike bikeshare system.

A Pennsylvania nonprofit dedicated to promoting mountain biking in Afghanistan will likely hold its signature annual event in the state’s Lehigh Valley, instead of in Afghanistan in the shadow of the towering Buddhist statues destroyed by the Taliban in their earlier incarnation.

 

International

Time Out ranks the world’s best cities, with San Francisco coming in on top, followed by Amsterdam and Manchester, England; Los Angeles checked in at a surprising #11, as they celebrated the city’s outdoor lifestyle while politely ignoring all the people forced to live there.

Road.cc looks at the best high-end, lightweight road bikes for weight weenies with money.

A letter writer from the Virgin Islands expresses his disgust at the islands’ dangerous drivers. He’s preaching to the choir.

Calgary attempts to slow drivers along a bike route by painting colorful animals onto the street, while improving the area for bike riders and pedestrians.

A former London reporter says it’s time to take a stand following the death of his friend and neighbor, a pediatrician who was killed riding her bike on a notoriously dangerous junction that is still waiting for a safety makeover promised to be finished two years ago; over 7,000 people have signed a petition demanding popup plastic barriers until permanent changes can be made.

A writer for T3 says the new relatively low-cost ebike from English scooter maker Pure Electric could be the ebike bargain of the yearAlthough it seems like Burbank-based Pure Cycles could have a decent copyright infringement case on their hands. 

You still have time to get to Limerick, Ireland in time for next week’s Bike Week.

Ride your bike eye-to-eye with ducks through a Belgian lake.

Berlin announces plans for a more than 1,800-mile bicycle network, with a three-tiered network like Los Angeles was supposed to build, and a commitment to build it out as quickly as possible. Unlike Los Angeles, where bike plans are merely “aspirational,” and the city gives itself 25 years to build them. Or not.

To the surprise of no one, the Taliban announced plans to ban women’s sports — which is why 25 members of the Afghan girls’ cycling team crossed over to Tajikistan on Monday. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the link.

Add this one to your bike bucket list — exploring Jerusalem on a rental ebike.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cyclist looks back at the memorable moments from this year’s Grand Tours.

 

Finally…

What it feels like to be a Peloton widow. That feeling when you appreciate a driver mistakenly insisting you have to stop at the stop sign, because he said it in a kind voice.

And evidently, vehicular cycling is nothing to monkey around with.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Day one of Scarpa murder trial, tell LA to stop street racing and loud engines, and CHP responsible for East LA hit-and-run

Our anonymous Orange County correspondent is back to cover this week’s trial of Stephen Taylor Scarpa for murder.

Scarpa allegedly ran down popular Costa Mesa fire captain and father Mike Kreza in a drug-fueled crash three years ago, as Kreza was riding a bicycle in Mission Viejo to train for a triathlon.

Here’s what she had to say about the lead-up to the long-delayed trial.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa‘s jury trial starts on Monday. So far, Judge Patrick Donahue has decided to allow the video of Scarpa’s participation in his high school’s “Every 15 Minutes” event, as well as testimony from fellow personnel of the rehab centers he worked at. The People’s exhibits will probably also include the DMV’s letter of license revocation and a diagram (but no photographs) of the victim’s many injuries.

Since Scarpa has a long-standing association with drugs, his medical records might be presented as well. The judge finds that this is not in violation of HIPAA. Despite the lack of a previous arrest for DUI, there is sooo much other evidence, strong evidence, that Scarpa knew the dangers of impaired driving, the DA might not even bother to present these records. Scarpa had jaw-dropping levels of assorted drugs in his system, and his blood was not drawn until 4 hours after the collision.

His Honor has forbidden Kreza’s fellow firefighters to attend the trial in full uniform, and friends & family will not be allowed to wear clothing or badges with the deceased’s likeness. I am sorely tempted to get a T-shirt printed up with “It’s about time” in bold letters, because according to the arresting officer, these were Scarpa’s words as the handcuffs were slapped on.

And this is how she reported on the first day of public testimony in the trial.

Oh, man, I’m not hopeful.

The Scarpa trial began Monday morning. Deputy DA Michael Feldman began opening statements by thanking the victim’s friends and family for coming. As stipulated by the judge, no uniformed firefighters were present inside the courtroom. But they were out in the hallway to provide support for the widow and other family members. There was no mention that Mr. Kreza himself had been a firefighter.

In a PowerPoint presentation bannered by the misspelled name of the defendant, Mr. Feldman tersely listed the basic facts that support the People’s charge, among them Scarpa’s participation in his high school’s “Every 15 Minutes” program, his rehab stints, and his employment as a behavioral health technician. “He’s gonna be the one to tell you first hand,” insisted Mr. Feldman, pointing at the defendant, that he was aware of the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. To this end, the People played audio files of the interrogation, in which Mr. Scarpa tells the investigating deputy, “I do it, but I don’t condone it,” a tacit and unambiguous confession. Mr. Scarpa clutched tissues as the DA played his confession that he’d driven impaired with his own young daughter in the car.

Feldman then went on to use the word “accident” several times during his opening statement. AUUUUURGH. That is the entire premise of the defense. It’s almost like he’s trying to hand Mr. Scarpa an acquittal with a big red shiny bow.

Mr. Lowenstein, for the Defense, insisted that the collision had been an “accident,” and that Mr. Scarpa’s actions did not meet the legal definition of implied malice. He stated that the prescription drugs found in Scarpa’s system do not, as opposed to Feldman’s assertion, have warning stickers telling users not to drive. The defense asked whether Scarpa acted with “conscious disregard” (without underscoring the impossibility because Scarpa was, in fact, unconscious at the time of impact).

The Defense told the jury that Scarpa, though drugged up after a party, drove approximately 25 miles without incident, and there was no evidence that he was speeding. He went on to loftily praise Scarpa’s parking (“snug against the curb”!) after the collision, and reiterated several times that he did not attempt to flee afterwards. The collision was merely “a split second in time, a miscalculation, a perfect storm of events.”  Scarpa’s temporary inattention, “a fraction of a second,” and impaired state led to “a perfect storm of events.” (Lowenstein also mentioned something about a perfect storm of events.)

Both Feldman and Lowenstein brought up the words Mr. Scarpa uttered upon his official arrest: “It’s about time.” The People assert that this indicated Mr. Scarpa’s acceptance of a long-anticipated outcome. The Defense suggested that Mr. Scarpa had been expecting an arrest only for the duration of his lengthy interrogation.

First to testify was widow Shana Kreza, who identified a photo of her late husband, and briefly described the family’s Saturday morning, getting ready for their daughter’s soccer game. Mr. Kreza had left on his bicycle, but never arrived at the soccer field.

Next on the witness stand was the first responding officer, who described taking initial command of the scene, Mr. Kreza’s broken body, the agitation of the suspect, and the actions of the Good Samaritans.

The next two witnesses had been in the car behind Scarpa. Ragan Hill and her nephew, Cage Morgan, were putting up garage sale signs in the neighborhood. Hill saw Scarpa’s minivan leave the roadway. As it took out shrubs and saplings on the embankment to the right of the sidewalk (where Kreza was riding his bicycle, despite the adjacent bike lane), she saw a body fly off the top of the minivan.

Morgan described his aunt yell, “Oh my god, look at that car!” He diverted his attention from his phone to see Scarpa’s minivan returning to the roadway, with a trailing cloud of debris. He watched as a man fell off the minivan’s roof onto the road. Hill hit the brakes, stopping about 5-10 feet from Kreza’s prone, bloody body. Morgan called 911, and both exited the vehicle to assist.

Scarpa had parked by the curb and exited his minivan as well, but didn’t approach his victim or the witnesses. Instead, he sat on the curb, fidgeting. “My first thought,” testified Hill, “was that he was impaired.”

Both Hill and Morgan described the same aspects of the scene: Scarpa’s agitation, Kreza’s bone sticking out of his lower leg. Morgan was afraid to initiate CPR, fearing it would exacerbate Kreza’s injuries. Because Morgan was unsure the collision was accidental and did not know whether Scarpa was dangerous, he didn’t approach the suspect, but gestured questioningly from a distance, with palms up. He kept an eye on Scarpa, who appeared disoriented, because “I was afraid he would flee the scene.”

Deputy Christian Servin was called to the scene to perform a field sobriety test. He first approached the twitchy suspect and asked what was going on. He was apprehensive about asking Scarpa to perform some of the physical field sobriety testing tasks because his lack of balance and coordination might subject him to falls. Deputy Servin’s search found six 800mg gabapentin pills on Scarpa’s person, and Scarpa confirmed he had no prescription. Though Servin had difficulty with communication because Scarpa was “in and out” of it, he was able to determine that Scarpa had not slept for two days, had smoked .25g of meth 36 hours prior, had fresh tracks from injecting a fentanyl/meth mixture, had taken Suboxone at a party that morning, and had taken lorazepam. Scarpa stated that he had no medical conditions, and (and) that he was under a doctor’s care. (This doctor, perhaps?) Scarpa also stated he knew he should not have been driving, because he was “upset,” and he believed that he had crashed into a tree and several people.

At this point, court recessed for lunch, and I had to split ’cause I have graveyard shifts, but I’m all free for Day 2.

Meanwhile, the Daily Pilot says the case will hinge on intent, and whether Scarpa intentionally committed the act that resulted in Kreza’s death.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels.

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Our anonymous correspondent also added this note.

EMT students are required to attend one rotation in a hospital emergency department. I did this.

The morning started off slow, and the nurses had zero interest in talking with me, so I poked my head into an exam room and announced to the patient that I was there to check her vitals. She consented and while I took her pulse, I asked what brought her to the ER. She stated that she had passed out while making a left turn (in a major intersection, btw) and had crashed into a fire hydrant. I sympathized with her awful morning, and then asked what she’d had for breakfast. Nothing. I suggested that it was always a good idea to fuel up to start your day. Then I asked whether she was on any medications. She had taken a prescription narcotic analgesic before she took her kids to school. “And you drove?” She confirmed this. I informed her that it was dangerous to drive under the influence, and her pill bottle even had a warning sticker added to the prescription label. She insisted there was no such warning, so we pulled the bottle out of her purse to look at it.

I read the warning out loud: “Do not operate heavy machinery.”

She protested, with frustration at my stupidity, “I wasn’t operating heavy machinery. I was just driving my car.”

(Ed. note: Because evidently multi-ton cars aren’t, well, you know…)

There are warnings of “Don’t drive until you know how this drug affects you,” even though said drug impairs your cognitive abilities such that you cannot ascertain how the drug impairs you. In the absence of quantification and/or memory, your brain just lies to you: “Everything’s fine.”

Why appropriate phrasing hasn’t been legislated, I don’t know.

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Streets For All is urging you to take action to support a couple of motions on the agenda for this afternoon’s meeting of the LA City Council Public Safety Committee.

Make your voice heard on two key issues this week.

There are two key issues being considered this week at City of Los Angeles Public Safety Committee.

1 – The first (Council File 21-0870) is a motion at the Public Safety Committee to consider re-designing streets to prevent illegal street racing. As much as we fight for lower speed limits, the best way to slow cars down is by redesigning streets all together.

2 – The second (Council File 20-1267) is a motion to reduce illegal exhaust noise in the City of Los Angeles. Modified mufflers disturb the peace and evenincrease our stress hormones and risk of heart disease. While we don’t want more armed officers doing traffic stops, we can solve this by clamping down on the shops that make these illegal modifications.

Here’s how you can help in 2 easy steps:

1) Make public comment using the council file system

If you are unable to make live public comment, the next best thing is writing a message in the council file management system. We have made this easy with a pre-filled template and links.

MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT IN ADVANCE

2) Make public comment live at the committee meetings

The Public Safety Committee is on Wednesday, September 1, at 330pm. Here is the agenda. Call into this meeting to comment on the re-designing streets to curb racing and the illegal exhaust noise issue.

CALL IN INSTRUCTIONS + TALKING POINTS

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Speaking of Streets For All, the political nonprofit is calling on you to fill a vacancy in your local Neighborhood Council if you live in any of the following areas.

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In a Twitter thread, the LACBC calls for accountability from the CHP for the hit-and-run that injured a 14-year old boy in East LA over two months ago.

Despite catching the crash on video, and multiple news reports, they’ve apparently done nothing to hold the officer responsible, or compensate the bike-riding boy for his injuries.

Click on the tweets for the full thread.

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This is who we share the road with.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

Utah’s Zion National Park is looking for public input on new bike and ebike regulations that would allow bikes in groups of no more than six spread at least a quarter-mile apart, require riders to pull off to the side of the road for buses, and have a bell on your bike to warn people and wildlife. Because everyone knows cougars, skunks and bighorn sheep will politely move aside to let you pass if they hear the dulcet tones of a bike bell announce your presence.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

San Diego authorities are looking for a bike-riding arsonist who set a series of small fires in the city’s North Park neighborhood earlier this month.

Probably not the best idea to leave a “sanctimonious, passive-aggressive” note on a Portland driver’s car calling out the expired plates, and suggesting they get rid of it and start riding a bicycle.

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska busted a man who stabbed another man in the back in a dispute over an alleged stolen bicycle, then tried to break into an apartment using lock pick tools.

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Local

Bloomberg considers UCLA parking meister Donald Shoup’s call to stop subsidizing drivers at the expense of everyone else, arguing that free parking is killing our cities.

Monrovia’s new “Biking for Bucks” program promises to reimburse people who live or work in the city up to $350 for the purchase of bikes and ebikes, whether for adults or children, as well as bicycle accessories, purchased between July 1st and September 30th of this year. So start shopping, already.

Active SGV teamed with Alhambra and SCAG to install a new popup bike lane, high viz crosswalks and curb extensions on Popular Boulevard in the city to gather public feedback. But hurry of you want to check ’em out, because they’ll be gone this time next week.

 

State

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds teams with San Francisco Transportation Director Jeffrey Tumlin to pen an op-ed for CalMatters in support of AB 43, arguing that speeding drivers should not set speed limits.

 

National

It looks like Outside and VeloNews are joining Bicycling in hiding their stories behind a draconian paywall, on the mistaken assumption that preventing people from reading them will make more people want to. However, unlike Bicycling, the Outside and VeloNews stories don’t appear to be available on Yahoo.

Schwinn’s new I Am A Cyclist ad campaign focuses on marginalized members of the bicycling community to show what kind of people really ride bicycles.

Consumer Reports explains the steps they take to rate bike helmets, while InsideHook looks at the best commuter bike helmets for people who hate to wear one that won’t make you look like a total dork.

Best Buy is jumping head first into the ebike business by selling ebikes, e-scooters, mopeds and electric dirt bikes on their website, as well as in some stores.

A writer for Shape raves that her new Rad Power bike actually makes her comment enjoyable. And no, Best Buy doesn’t sell it.

Police in Colorado are looking for a hit-and-run driver who abandoned his SUV, then fled on foot before stealing a bicycle from a nearby school to make his getaway.

This is who we share the road with, part two. South Dakota’s killer Attorney General was hit with yet another speeding ticket — his seventh in seven years — just days before he was scheduled to go on trial for the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian while on his way home from a fundraiser last year. Yet he’s still allowed to stay on the roads to kill someone else, never mind that the $177.50 fine for a simple speeding ticket is nearly a fifth of what he was fined for actually killing someone.

A new Illinois law will require the state to pick up 100% of the costs for bicycle and walking infrastructure on state roadways; the state had previously required the local community to pay 20%.

A four-year old Michigan girl is able to ride a bicycle for the first time, after a fundraiser brings in enough to buy her an adaptive bike, and cover the cost to buy a bike for someone else, too.

Like drivers everywhere, motorists in Dayton, Ohio seem to have trouble figuring out how the city’s new parking protected bike lanes are supposed to work, parking in the bike lane next to the curb while leaving the parking lane empty.

 

International

Wired says Covid-19 means it’s finally time for the 15-minute city, where living, shopping and work are all within walking distance in the same neighborhood. Unless you live in Los Angeles, that is, where city leaders seem to be firmly committed to keeping everything within an hour and a half drive. Except at rush hour, of course.

Bosch says their new upgrades to ebike batteries and motors promise to make your new ebike ride smarter and farther.

Probably not the best idea to try to steal a bike from inside a British police station.

Life is cheap in Australia, where a driver was sentenced to seven years for the meth-fueled hit-and-run that seriously injured five bike riders last year — but with time served, he’ll be eligible for parole in less than a year.

 

Competitive Cycling

Twenty-year old American cyclist Quinn Simmons refuses to limit his options, dividing his plans for next year between the WorldTour and American gravel races.

Red Bull talks with two-time European mountain bike champ Lars Forster about how he went from riding with his dad to riding with, and beating, the world’s best.

 

Finally…

When your status in the local bicycling community hinges on finding the right bike basket. Get your very own bicycle umbrella for your next rainy ride.

And you’ll have to wait another year for a zombie bike ride in Key West.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Cost of traffic violence — 3 killed in SD crash, air better worldwide in pandemic, and bike quotes to get you riding

This is the cost of traffic violence.

Yesterday’s rains drove even more people than usual living on the streets to a San Diego underpass Sunday night, because they had nowhere else to go to seek shelter from the storm.

They paid for it with their lives the following morning when an allegedly impaired driver plowed onto the sidewalk, killing three people and injuring six others, two critically.

Seventy-one-year old Craig Voss arrested for three counts of vehicular manslaughter, as well as five counts of causing great bodily injury while committing a felony, and one count of felony DUI for driving under the influence of drugs.

Police believe Voss was the subject of a call to 911 shortly before the crash reporting a possibly intoxicated driver.

But at least he remained at the scene and attempted to aid the victims.

Beyond the sheer tragedy of three more innocent victims sacrificed on the alter to motor vehicles, it’s heartbreaking that so many people who’ve already lost everything and have to live without a roof over their heads — for whatever reason — aren’t safe along the streets they’re forced to live on.

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One more sign of the damage done by motor vehicles.

Air quality improved in 84% of country’s worldwide when pandemic lockdowns forced many people to stop driving.

An improvement that will undoubtedly be reversed once businesses open back up and people go back to work.

Especially in places like Los Angeles, where so little was done during the closures to encourage more bike riding, walking and other forms of alternative transportation.

That compares to cities throughout Europe, which are doubling down on their successful efforts to encourage bicycling as a safe form of socially distanced transportation, with 600 miles of “cycle lanes, traffic-calming measures and car-free streets” installed over the last year.

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Parade Magazine, of all sources, dishes up 50 bicycling quotes to inspire you to get out and ride, including these —

“Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life’s purpose – the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle.” – Gino Bartali

“Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to” – Dr. K.K. Doty

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.” Elizabeth West

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The good news is the city continues to improve safety for bicyclists in DTLA.

The bad is it seems to come at the expense of the rest of the city.

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Invest a short 20 seconds of your life to understand the freedom a bike can give someone with a disability.

And how easy it is to take it away.

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I want to be like him when I grow up.

A 77-year old Arizona man turned down his daughter’s offer to take him by car, and rode his bike nearly 50 miles roundtrip to get his Covid vaccine shot.

Although that might be trumped by a much shorter ride from a much older Dutch woman.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

You’ve got to be kidding. Life is cheap in the UK, where a driver with a history of violence walked without a single lousy day behind bars when a judge gave him a suspended sentence for assaulting a young couple who had stopped to fix a flat, first punching the man before knocking the woman down and stomping on her head. Seriously, what the hell are jails for, then?

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Local

The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee will hold a virtual joint meeting of the Planning and Bikeways Engineering Subcommittees starting at 1 pm this afternoon.

Spectrum News 1 looks at what’s driving pedaling the ebike boom.

 

State

Cooler heads prevail in Santa Barbara, where police reject calls to arrest young bike riders — primarily people of color — for riding bikes and performing stunts on the newly installed bike lane on the city’s State Street pedestrian plaza, with police saying they don’t want to “criminalize children for riding bikes.”

The good guys finally won one for a change, as police busted a pair of burglars who broke into a Larkspur bike shop and temporarily made off with seven bikes worth $29,000, after the owner spotted them inside his store on a live security cam.

Napa’s proposed new general plan envisions making the city’s main streets more walkable and bikeable.

 

National

Planetizen says ending traffic fatalities once and for all isn’t as farfetched as it seems.

That’s more like it. A Nogales AZ man will spend the next seven and a half years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider, while he was stoned on meth.

In an unusual move, dozens of volunteers teamed with Houston planning and public works officials to paint a new high-comfort popup bike lane. Maybe that could be a model for Los Angeles to finally end the auto-centric stasis on our streets.

Nine of the 21 candidates for a Queens city council seat took part in a bike ride through the district to examine problems and policies before the upcoming election. For years, the LACBC’s candidate surveys asked people running for city offices if they’d be willing to meet or ride with bicyclists if they were elected; even though most agreed, no one ever asked them to.

If you find yourself riding a bike in New Jersey, keep your hands on the handlebars and your feet on the pedals. And put a damn bell on it.

Biking is booming in the City of Brotherly Love, too.

A Virginia op-ed calls for lowering speed limits to 15 mph to save lives. Although here in Southern California, a 15 mph speed limit means most drivers would still do 25 to 30 mph. But at least that would be an improvement for most drivers, who currently do 35 to 45 in a 25 mph residential zone.

That’s more like it. A North Carolina man got 33 to 49 months behind bars for the November hit-and-run death of a bike rider.

Nice move from bikemaker Subrosa, which gave a new bike to a 15-year old Florida boy whose bicycle was destroyed in a hit-and-run crash; the company teamed with Adventure Cycling to give him the first bike from next year’s line, ensuring it will be a one-of-a-kind bike for the next several months.

Bike riders often spot things drivers don’t. Like a body lying near a Florida bike path, for instance.

 

International

Cyclist celebrates world bicycle speed record holder Denise Mueller-Korenek as Monday’s inspirational woman.

Gates Carbon Drive promotes a half-dozen new bikes using the company’s belt-drive products.

A neurodivergent Saskatoon, Saskatchewan kid will get a $3,500 adaptive bike back, after a bike thief was busted when he listed the unique bike for sale online.

A Mexico City woman is forging her own way in the traditionally male-dominated custom bicycle scene as the owner of the city’s only woman-run bike shop.

Damn straight. An English op-ed calls for trusting the experts when it comes to bicycling and traffic planning.

Germany’s Rose Bikes joined ranks with Commencal, Propain, Santa Cruz and other bike brands in announcing price increases due to rising costs caused by the pandemic.

Apparently, things are pretty much the same everywhere, as drivers continue to park in Philippine bike lanes, with most of the scofflaw vehicles belong to the government.

Remarkably, an Aussie bike rider was able to bounce back up when a dash cam video catches him in a frightening crash while trying to ride across a street.

 

Competitive Cycling

Writing for Red Bull, bike scribe Peter Flax profiles multi-time national champ and L39ion of Los Angeles (pronounced “legion”) founder Justin Williams, and his drive to drag cycling into the age of diversity, kicking and screaming if he has to.

Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar continues to hold the lead after the penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race, with Danish cyclist Mads Würtz Schmidt claiming his first WorldTour stage win.

British barrister and time trial specialist Jonathan Parker claims to have shattered the world record for 100 miles, checking in a slant two seconds under two hours and fifty minutes, beating the existing record by eight minutes.

UCI pulled the plug on the season opening Mountain Bike World Cup downhill race after Slovenian health officials urged them to reschedule due to the ongoing pandemic.

A 16-year old Georgia boy’s only goal was to finish the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational fat bike race; instead, he somehow managed to finish third.

 

Finally…

Turn your body into a mini-electric generator when you ride. Another reminder why your bike should sleep indoors, especially during a massive winter storm.

And maybe this will get drivers to give you a little space.

https://twitter.com/svblxyz/status/1371401312177377280

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Apropos of that aforementioned winter storm, I love this image from my home state, where the snow is nearly one corgi deep.

Thanks to Dr. Grace Peng for the laugh.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a damn mask, already. 

Morning Links: Higher crash rates in states with legal cannabis, and driver gets life for killing LAPD officer

This is who we share the roads with.

A new study shows that crash rates are up six percent in the four states where cannabis is legal, compared to neighboring states.

Which is a good reminder that it can take a full 24 hours or more to metabolize marijuana. And driving under the influence of cannabis is just as illegal as alcohol, if harder to quantify.

Meanwhile, Wednesday marked the first day cannabis was legal in Canada.

And it only took one hour before the first ticket was issued for toking behind the wheel.

Photo by Michael Fisher from Pexels.com.

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A 25-year old driver got life behind bars for intentionally ramming an LAPD patrol car and killing the officer inside, in an attempt to help his friend in another car escape a police chase.

Which couldn’t be more deserved.

But remember that the next time a driver gets a slap on the wrist for deliberately running down someone on a bicycle.

………

And combining the last two themes, Jeffrey Fylling forwards a press release from the Orange County DA’s office announcing that a 24-year old woman will face up to 10 years in prison for killing an 81-year old man while allegedly driving high on cannabis.

Which gives a whole new meaning to the term weed killer.

It would be nice to see prosecutors take it that seriously the next time a California driver kills someone on foot or on a bicycle.

………

CD6 Councilmember Nury Martinez is asking for your input in designing a Safe Routes to School program to improve walking and bicycling to Van Nuys Elementary and Panorama City Elementary schools.

A public meeting will be held at each school next Thursday to discuss a Walking Safety Assessment.

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Local

Curbed talks with East Side Rider’s founder John Jones III about the club’s efforts to inspire change in the local South LA community through bicycling. Although I had no idea they had chapters in other cities across the US. And thanks to whoever sent this to me; my apologies for losing track of it. 

CiclaValley previews Monday’s Donut Ride on Reseda Blvd.

Forget the candy this Halloween. Metro Bike is offering a bulk discount on single ride bikeshare passes. Although that doesn’t guarantee you won’t get egged or TPed by kids who’d rather have a sugar high than a free ride.

Helen’s Cycles is hiring a part-time cashier for their Santa Monica store.

 

State

Over 1,000 bicyclists are expected to turn out for the annual Tour of Upland next month.

About 40 veterans and first responders are making their way down the California coast as part of the eleventh annual Project Hero United Healthcare California Coastal Challenge to highlight the health issues they face, including PTSD.

Chico is updating its bike plan after just five years. So naturally, the local TV station quotes a driver complaining about scofflaw bicyclists. I wonder if they also bring up lawbreaking drivers whenever someone wants to build a new overpass.

 

National

They get it. AARP suggests ten ways bicycle friendly streets are good for people who don’t ride bikes, while offering a reminder that people of all ages like to ride bicycles. Print this one out before your next public meeting, and leave a copy on every seat. Especially since older people tend to be more resistant to bike-friendly changes.

A writer for a travel site says you can participate in adventure travel, even with a hidden disability.

Forbes suggests what you can do in your own neighborhood to slow climate change. Hint: It has pedals and two wheels, and maybe a battery.

Motherboard says e-scooters reveal America’s urban transportation crisis, adding they’re fun, but nobody knows what to do with them yet.

Portland experiments with raised, floating bus platforms to reduce crashes with bike riders. For once, Los Angeles got there first with raised platforms on Los Angeles and Figueroa.

Nebraska tourism officials are told they can bicycle their way to prosperity by hitching a ride on the bike tourism boom.

No bias here. A Chicago writer complains about an “abundance of rude (maybe even psychotic) bicyclists” who ride on the sidewalk, instead of in the “bike lanes that have disrupted and uglified” downtown streets, while adding that police should ticket downtown bike riders instead of sidewalk riders in black neighborhoods. Nothing opposing bike lanes, as well as people who don’t feel safe using them.

Chicago’s Bike Lane Uprising is a crowdsourced civic tech platform designed to make it easier to report drivers blocking bike lanes or other obstructions.

St. Paul MN discovers they can trick drivers into stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.

New Orleans bike riders will no longer face a $150 fine for failing to failing to register their bikes; the city revoked its mandatory registration after one rider received nearly $1,000 in tickets for a single traffic stop, including one for failing to register his bike.

The police chief in Tampa FL says his cops stop bike riders mostly because they don’t have lights, run stop signs or ride salmon. It’s just a total coincidence that 80% of the bike riders they stop are black.

A Tampa TV station says a three-foot wide curb bike lane is dangerous by design, putting bicyclists too close to passing cars. Especially since that three feet appears to include the gutter.

 

International

Treehugger says it’s time to face the dangers cement trucks pose to the people around them, and put safer trucks on the roads.

Road.cc lists 18 things they “reckon” every bike rider hates. I hate the word reckon, but I reckon that’s my problem.

A new urban bike promises to be weatherproof and maintenance-free, with airless, puncture-proof tires, a carbon belt drive, and seven speed internal hub. Although the nearly $2,000 price tag could put a dent in your wallet.

Your next bike helmet could be printed, not made.

Drivers in the UK could be required to give bicyclists and pedestrians the right-of-way in every situation under a proposed revision to the country’s Highway Code.

A trio of bighearted British kids raised the equivalent of over $6,500 for a hospice for terminally-ill children and adults; two rode 300 miles across England, while the third, who suffers from Cardio Facio Cutaneous Syndrome, rode 30 miles on his adaptive bike.

It’s official. Scottish cyclist Jenny Graham has shattered the women’s record for bicycling around the world in just 124 days, beating the existing record by 20 days.

France considers a mandatory bicycle registration program to fight bike theft as part of a 25-point, $401 million plan to boost bicycling — including a proposal to pay people up to $458 a year to bike to work.

Volkswagen’s new smart headlights promise to recognize and highlight people walking or riding bikes in low light. Which the drivers probably won’t notice because they’ll be too busy with their phones.

An Israeli soccer player is expected to be charged with hit-and-run and DUI for a crash that killed a teenage boy illegally sharing a friend’s ebike; the other boy could also face charges for carrying a passenger, swerving into the driver’s path and riding without a helmet.

A legendary Aussie firefighter wants to thank the stranger who tossed his bicycle in the back of his SUV and drove him home after he took a bad fall in traffic, injuring his shoulder.

A Manilla legislator proposes a nearly five-foot passing distance to improve safety for people on bicycles.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews looks at the complicated case of newly crowned women’s masters champ Dr. Rachel McKinnon, saying the debate over the first transgender world champ can’t be solved, but it can be better understood.

Former Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins says like it or not, Lance is iconic, and was singled out for doping when he wasn’t the only one doing it.

Surprisingly, the winner of last year’s Zwift indoor cycling competition has thrived in the pro peloton, signing with pro team Canyon-SRAM for a second season.

 

Finally…

When you really want to go retro with your water bottle. If you don’t think drivers hear your warnings, get a grip.

And when your marriage goes downhill as soon as you say your vows.

 

Morning Links: 40 years behind bars for drug-fueled Kalamazoo massacre, and new ways to drive distracted

Forty years.

That’s the minimum sentence the driver convicted of the Kalamazoo massacre will serve, after being convicted in the drug-fueled death of five bicyclists, and injuring four others.

Charles Pickett Jr. was sentenced to 40 to 75 years behind bars, meaning he’ll be at least 92 when he gets out if he serves his full sentence.

But at least Pickett said he sorry.

“I’ll live with this the rest of my life. I would give my life for the people I murdered, killed and maimed and everything else and I just want to say I’m sorry,” he said, wiping away tears.

The judge wasn’t having any of it, though.

The judge called Pickett’s apology “woefully inadequate,” saying that until that point, he didn’t appear remorseful for his actions. The judge also pointed out Pickett had many opportunities to stop driving before he hit the cyclists, but didn’t.

At least one survivor said his tearful apology was pretty underwhelming.

Yes, alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases. But driving under the influence is a choice.

One that can have devastating consequences for innocent people on the roads.

As well as the not-so-innocent people behind the wheel.

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Just what we need. Another way for people to be distracted behind the wheel.

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Local

As usual, the LA Times gets it, saying e-scooters aren’t a scourge, they’re a solution. And says Elon Musk is going to destroy Los Angeles in a dumb attempt to save it.

LA Taco looks at the arrest of Mariah Kandise Banks in the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier in South LA, and the low rent attempted coverup that followed.

CiclaValley watches the Nichols Ride again, but gets some great photos in the process. And he has a good excuse for not riding.

 

State

Laguna Beach police conducted their annual Road Safety Expo to help stop bike and pedestrian deaths; they focused on the dangers of distracted driving, as well a bicycling and walking skills.

The people behind anti-road diet group Keep LA Moving continue to export their traffic safety denial program, this time taking up shop to halt safety improvements in Tustin. Credit Peter Flax with the link.

Ocean Beach planners approve a concept for parking protected bike lanes along West Point Loma Avenue.

A San Diego girl was lucky to escape with a bruised leg after she was hit by a turning car while allegedly riding salmon.

After a successful trial, NorCal’s Caltrain is expanding a program allowing bicycle riders to board bike cars first to make boarding more efficient.

Sad news from the Tahoe area, where a man was killed when a driver veered right into his bicycle.

 

National

This is who we share the roads with. A Minnesota motorist fleeing from police plowed into a playground, critically injuring two small children, as well as injuring their brother.

Akron OH looks to Copenhagen for inspiration on how to become bike friendly.

Massachusetts police can’t figure out who’s responsible for a road rage incident, so they just charge everyone (scroll down).

New York drivers can’t seem to figure out that they don’t go when the bicycle-shaped traffic signal turns green.

 

International

A film critic offers seven anecdotes marking the 15th anniversary of the bike-themed The Triplets of Belleville. And if you haven’t seen it, what the hell are you waiting for?

Talk about not getting it. Ontario, Canada police release a bike safety video, telling bicyclists to ride a far right as possible — even when there are sharrows on the street.

After a Nova Scotia man traded his car for a bicycle, he hopes a revised vehicle code will finally treat bike riders and drivers equally. And he’s not the only one.

Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize fame does a little bicycle myth busting in the Guardian.

According to The Atlantic, bakfiets — aka cargo bikes — are the new symbol of gentrification in the Netherlands, as upscale white mothers take to two or three wheels in place of the family minivan.

Reporting from the Netherlands, People for Bikes says the Dutch ride a lot, but don’t go far.

Uber’s Jump e-bikeshare service has made its first foray into Europe, landing in Berlin following a botched entry with their carshare service.

Australian site The Conversation discusses how traffic signals are designed to favor cars and discourage walking.

 

Competitive Cycling

Canada may be getting close to legalizing marijuana, but it remains banned for cyclists under international doping rules. Seriously, has a little weed ever enhanced a cyclist’s performance? It usually has the opposite effect. Or so I’ve heard.

VeloNews recounts competitors tales from the recent 206-mile Dirty Kanza gravel race.

Twenty-seven-year old Aussie BMX champ Caroline Buchanan will compete in Texas later this month, just six months after a serious crash nearly ended her career. And her life.

 

Finally…

At least someone’s fixing potholes. Advice for your first naked bike ride.

And she didn’t just marry into royalty, she married into cycling.

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Thanks to Mark H for his generous support of this site.

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