Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Mayor’s statement on Bicycle Master Plan

Posted by on April 27th, 2007 at 3:22 pm

Portland Mayor Tom Potter
File photo: 7/26/06

As promised, Mayor Tom Potter has released a statement about his decision to not provide funding for the Bicycle Master Plan Update process:

Office of Mayor Tom Potter

City of Portland

Thank you for emailing me about the proposed budget and the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan. For this budget, we were faced with an unprecedented number of requests and priorities. All of these requests have real merit; obviously, not all can be met.

The Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT) has struggled with significant funding issues – and will continue to struggle with funding issues in the coming years. The largest part of Transportation discretionary revenue comes from State gas tax revenue. This revenue is not indexed for inflation and has not been increased since 1993. This has left PDOT with a large gap in the amount of revenue they have available to adequately fund maintenance. In response to this gap and to ensure that essential basic maintenance is taken care of, the proposed budget dedicates a substantial portion of PDOT’s funding ($1.2 million) to institute a very short-term fix to ongoing maintenance.

Difficult decisions had to be made as to the best use of remaining dollars after funding basic maintenance. Several components of Commissioner Adams’s Safe Streets Initiative were funded, two of which focused on bicycle transportation. Included in the proposed budget were Safe Routes to School, pedestrian safety improvements, and funds to continue improving the City’s most dangerous intersections. Additionally, the proposed budget includes bicycle safety improvements for $150,000. These decisions are consistent with our priority to fund safety requests above other requests.

I appreciate your concern. I agree that the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan is important and I would like to see it funded in the near future. Thank you, again, for emailing me.


Tom Potter

So that’s it. The Mayor has decided that the Bicycle Master Plan is simply not a priority for Portland. That is unfortunate.

Why did he make this decision? Does he not fully understand the role of bicycles in our transportation mix? Do advocates and the community need to do a better job building political relationships and making our case in City Hall? Does he think we already get our fair share of funding? Does he not like Sam Adams (the Commissioner who made the request)? Does he not fully understand the importance of this document to the safety and livability of our city?

I’m not sure what the reason is.

As for safety, it’s important to remember that he also chose to significantly reduce the funding request from PDOT’s Community and Schools Traffic Safety Partnership. They asked for $600,000 in bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements and they received half of that.

Fortunately for the Bicycle Master Plan, I would be very surprised if the collective wisdom of City Hall did not come through with a way to get it funded (all we need is for an amendment to be proposed and passed with three votes from City Council).

It’s been a long week. More analysis and thoughts in the next few days.

(For full coverage, check out the Mayor Potter cuts bike plan funding story tag.)

UPDATE: KGW-TV (NBC Portland) reports, “Cyclists shocked by Portland Mayor’s budget“. The story has a pointed quote from Commissioner Adams. Referring to the Mayor’s VisionPDX planning project, Adams reportedly said,

“Getting people on bikes and keeping them safe is more important than more visioning for which I haven’t seen any results.”


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  • Shamus April 27, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Again, the mayor is missing the point – if safety requests get priority, then the Bike Master Plan should get priority, as it is the guiding policy for bike safety. And, as I pointed out in another post, the mayor’s budget included $2 million – $2 million! for his pet project “visionPDX” to help Portlanders shape the new vision of Portland. Now, I guess these funds come from different sources, but come on – we’re jsut asking for $150,000 out of a $2 BILLION dollar budget. This is money well spent.

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  • gabrielamadeus April 27, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    So what does this say?

    …Yes, we understand your cause is a good one, and we have had a record amount of public input/concern, however we’re not going to do anything about it. Too bad.

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  • encephalopath April 27, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    “…Platinum Bicycle Master Plan”?

    Does mayor’s office think the Master Plan is all about the rating the city receives from the League of American Bicyclists?

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  • BURR April 27, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I’m not buying it. Very little of the safety money will go towards making city wide bicycle transporation safer for adult cyclists.

    The Master Plan update will be the guiding document for such improvements for at least the next ten years, and such a plan needs to be in place before specific projects can be approved and funded, this will set back actual construction of any new route and safety improvements for cyclists by years.

    At this point I no longer have any confidence in his leadership ability on transportation matters.

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  • Jonathan Maus April 27, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    “Does mayor’s office think the Master Plan is all about the rating the city receives from the League of American Bicyclists?”

    actually it is officially called the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan..I just can’t get myself to call it that ;-).

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  • Sam Livingston-Gray April 27, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I honestly had no opinion on the upcoming resolution to change our form of city government, but if this is the kind of decision our current mayor is going to make, I’m certainly not inclined to give him more power.

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  • Sam Livingston-Gray April 27, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Apparently Platinum is too ambitious. Maybe it should be renamed to the Tin Bicycle Master Plan?

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  • Matt Picio April 27, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    The City of Portland acknowledges that Peak Oil is real – meaning we will need to shift from personal automotive transport to transit and bicycles (not entirely, but as much as possible). As fuel becomes more expensive (and transit with it), people will start to look for fuel-less alternatives (bikes)

    The number of bike trips increases both in real terms and as a percentage, year over year.

    We need a comprehensive plan to accomodate these cyclists accordingly.

    What about those items is so difficult for the mayor to understand?

    In addition, the more people we get on bikes, the less we NEED to spend on road maintenance.

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  • Michael R April 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    He identifies maintenance as a critical, and formerly neglected, area needing funding.

    Get people out of cars and onto bikes and you’ll see the wear on our roads, and the attendant maintenance costs, reduced.

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  • Martha R April 27, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Until this week, I was a supporter of the Mayor. No longer.

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  • Paul Cone April 27, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Nope, he doesn’t get it. How ironic that the guy I voted for because I thought he was community-minded and going to be the people’s mayor, is starting to resemble what I feared the other guy (Francesconi) was going to be, with his business friends, now helping him try to get more power.

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  • BURR April 27, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Like the previous mayor, Potter is now firmly in the pocket of the Portland Business Alliance, whose limited vision sees no role (other than perhaps as impediments to motoring) for bicyclists in the city’s future.

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  • no one in particular April 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    we’re jsut asking for $150,000

    For the record, they’re only asking for $100,000. $150K was the full price, but $50K was already allocated last year, and they actually only want $100K for this year.

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  • Jacque April 27, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Matt said, “As fuel becomes more expensive (and transit with it), people will start to look for fuel-less alternatives (bikes)”
    This brings up something I was wondering about when looking at the charts on the “Thoughts on Portland’s bike movement” post.
    Bike infrastructure building doesn’t seem to correlate with bike readership increases, but does it correlate with higher gas prices? I realize it wouldn’t prove causation, but has anyone looked into that relationship? It’s only antidotal, but it was the cost of gas back in late 90’s that made me stop commuting by car, and that was the only reason. Bike lanes had nothing to do with the decision.
    I’d just like to know once and for all what all the spending of money really gets us. I have trouble with the fact that the people doing the research are the people whose jobs depend on the need for more bicycle infrastructure.
    I do think some re-engineering has to take place, (especially in out-lying and suburban areas) but the changes I’m thinking of have more to do with controlling the out of control auto traffic. Take out lanes; add on-street parking; reduce the speed; widen the sidewalks; plant trees; set out tables; invite the kids to play.
    How many times does it have to be said!?! It is auto traffic that KillS. It kills people, communities, animals; and it is destroying our very habitat. It makes us sick. It makes us fat.
    Check out the article in the tribune last week regarding air pollution near freeways. They say people shouldn’t live anywhere near them. Deep down we all know that one of these days the single occupant car will be obsolete. Can’t we start planning for that?

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  • pdxrunner April 27, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Why is this guy our mayor and who are these people who actually voted for him? When is the last time Potter rode a bike to work or anywhere else?

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  • N.I.K. April 27, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    There you have it. The Mayor doesn’t give a damn what his constituents have to say because he’s got nothing to gain or lose from it at this point. If he considered the Bicycle Master Plan important, he’d realize that it going *without* funding sets us back more than just a year of tangible improvements according to the plan – there’s no stasis and things get even worse. To ignore public outrage and then to make a feeble effort to satiate us with a half-baked lie about his real-live deep-down support on the issue despite the complete lack of funding is a tremendous insult to all of us. Ridiculous as it sounds, I’m going to have a hard time not thinking of Mayor Potter as the enemy from here on out.

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  • Todd April 27, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Following Sam’s comment…Portland good luck getting Paltinum let alone keeping its Gold level award now.

    All it may take is something this symbolic from City Hall.

    And perhaps another symbolic act would be for the Portland bike community (advocates, bike shops, Kaiser Permanente, etc.) to send in $10 and $100 checks to fund the plan independent of the Mayor’s budget. Perhaps a bike party and bake sale too. (Or a $1 a day bike donation bridge toll on the Hawthorne.)

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  • Ian Clemons April 27, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    I find it pretty surprising that Potter isn’t allocating the money. My guess is that he is hoping for (dreaming of) Federal and State sources to pitch in and make it work. I bet he thinks Blumenauer and the rest of the Oregon delegation will carve enough pork out of some appropriations bill to cover the costs of Portland getting the platinum award.

    He’s not politically clueless. He knows that we’re a small (if growing) constituency compared to the other factions that need some red meat thrown to them from the current budget surplus.

    Also, just follow the money. Who IS getting the money? Who has spent money for Potter and wants to get more money? In politics, that’s usually the answer.


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  • Jasun Wurster April 27, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    I know a way the city can save an easy $20,000 a year.

    It involved the 12 bicycle officers sitting around at the North Park Blocks this afternoon at 5:45.

    Is Portland really that different from any other American city? Or do we delude ourselves.

    Perhaps, a large bike ride to City Hall is in order!

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  • JCW April 27, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Unbelieable… I’m starting it here – Sam Adams for mayor in ’08 – Potter is clearly losing his touch with the city!

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  • Randy April 27, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    A good time for bike lovers to start importing and filling the streets of Portland with bikes. If they don’t bring you the money brings them the bike. Bikes are zero pollution vehicles. More bikes on the, the slower the buses go…it’s called bikology.

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  • SKiDmark April 27, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    “Additionally, the proposed budget includes bicycle safety improvements for $150,000.”

    This isn’t enough?

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  • Donna April 27, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    I wasn’t particularly interested in Charter Reform before this. Now, I will fight tooth and nail against it. At least Mayor Potter has clarified this issue for me.

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  • npbike April 27, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    the gas tax argument is bogus…transportation doesn’t have to be paid for gas taxes…it’s just that gas taxes can’t be used for anything but transportation. If bikes provide a quality of life, then we can pay for them however we choose.

    find me a person who defends the peak oil positions. Just one. This is a political game.

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  • Gordon April 28, 2007 at 12:32 am

    Mayor Potter is a big disappointment. No charter reform for me.

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  • Burr April 28, 2007 at 9:17 am

    jasun and everyone else – don’t get mad, get even! Sshow up for the bike master plan ride this Tuesday, 5/1 at 5:15 PM in Terry Shrunk plaza, right across the street from city hall! If you’re really motivated, bring signs and stuff to right in front of city hall, and give the local media a call, make it an event!

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  • Daniel Johnson (teknotus) April 28, 2007 at 11:51 am

    If we could get 1000 people to donate $9/month we could raise $100,000. Making my ride to work just a little safer would be totally worth it to me, and I’m sure for many other people as well. Anyone know what is involved in setting up a fund like this besides getting some volunteers on the Hawthorn bridge to sign people up?

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  • beth h April 28, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Gabrielamadeus wrote:

    >>So what does this say?
    …Yes, we understand your cause is a good one, and we have had a record amount of public input/concern, however we’re not going to do anything about it. Too bad.


    Threatening not to vote for this guy (or his charter reform bill) in the next election seems way too, um, pedestrian (ugh. sorry).

    We should be thinking bigger, finding ways to foment a REAL bike revolution (legal or otherwise). How can we make the bicycle a larger, louder presence that the Mayor’s office will simply be unable to ignore? I invite every creative bicyclist who reads this site to Get Creative and foment rebellion and change.

    (If anyone wants to cite me for waving a red flag in front of a raging bull, so be it. The Mayor’s stance is, IMHO, bull***t.)

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  • Elljay April 28, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I like Todd’s (#17) idea…bake sale, voluntary toll, and of course, sell those Eastside bike map bandanas, and self-fund the plan.

    On a different note, I’m not sure Pottsie is fully to blame. I bet there’s an email or memo from PDOT’s leadership that steered him to “his” decision.

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  • Hawthorne Rider April 28, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Please – everyone if you can come to the community budget hearing on Thurs, May 10th at 6:30pm at Robert Gray Middle School to testify on this issue – City Council, including the Mayor will be there! For more info, http://www.portlandonline.com/communitybudget – there is a calendar link on right hand side for directions & details on hearing! Also, you will be able to submit electronic testimony via this site May 4-14, before Council has their next formal vote on the City’s budget on May 17th.

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  • Slick April 28, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Don’t forget… we just need 3 votes! All these comments sounds like we’ve lost this funding. The only thing that’s lost is support for Potter. The funding for the Master Plan is definitely still in play. We need to get three votes on Council. Show up at the community budget forums in numbers, show up to the master plan ride, lobby the commissioners. This just tees the issue up for Adams to kick Potter’s butt. If the mayor really thought citizen involvement was useful, he’d respond more effectively to the biggest citizen response he’s gotten in his one term that he’s going to get.

    This former supporter knows now that Tom Potter is not honest with the public.

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  • Jonathan Maus April 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I agree with Slick. we should work City Hall before thinking about raising the money ourselves. let’s see how this shakes out in the coming weeks…

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  • brad April 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    We shouldn’t raise money ourselves no matter what…that just legitimizes the decision not to fund the Master Plan. I say let everything go to shit in 5 years and then they can deal with the mess.

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  • Martha S. April 28, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I think the mayor doesn’t realize how many he has offended with this, and how severely. I too was a former supporter of the mayor, but now I want him GONE. I have told many people about this and referred them to this site if they want to read about it in depth. Every one of them was shocked to hear that he would do this and expressed disappointment. They may not have been as offended as many of us are, but they all seemed to be reconsidering their support of our mayor.

    I agree that raising the money ourselves is a bad idea, at least not immediately. We’re all taxpaying citizens here (at least I think we are) and we should get a say in how that money is spent. At this point we should make every effort to make sure this gets funded. Anyone who has yet to send e-mails to the mayor and the commissioners, please, take the time, do so now. It can be a simple message, as long as it’s honest and to the point. Clearly the commissioners should be our focus at this point as the mayor has, apparently, decided he doesn’t give a shit what we think. (I intend to send the mayor a second letter expressing my disappointment with his actions.)

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  • N.I.K. April 28, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    We’re all taxpaying citizens here (at least I think we are) and we should get a say in how that money is spent.

    Damn straight! A “autonomous cycling infrastructure improvement fund” effort seems like a great idea, but plenty of us are already forking over tax dollars going towards fixing stuff we didn’t contribute to breaking in the first place. It’s only fair that we try and get a portion of the money we hand over funds something for us; otherwise, the otherwise brilliant action of the community pooling resources could get interpreted as “they fix it themselves; why should *any* slice of the budget go towards it or anything vaguely related next year?”.

    And don’t forget: even though it’s not quite yet time to get Potter out of office, that Charter Amendment on transferring executive powers from the Council to the Mayor is on the ballot for the May 15th election. Preserve the balance that might help save us from this type of crap now and well into the future: vote no!

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  • Todd April 28, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Hey do not forget to check out the KGW link as they are polling readers about funding bikeways.


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  • Martha S. April 28, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Agreed N.I.K. I have always been a firm believer in a strong system of checks and balances, as well as generally spreading the power around. No way do I want to risk Potter or any other mayor pulling a stunt like this again.

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  • Disco D April 29, 2007 at 3:58 am

    Hmm, that KGW poll is showing 70% against at the moment…

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  • top secret April 29, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Rumor has it Sam Adams has his eye on the Mayor’s chair in the next election. If you want this plan funded, fund his ace.

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  • N.I.K. April 29, 2007 at 11:28 am

    I have always been a firm believer in a strong system of checks and balances, as well as generally spreading the power around.

    Yeah, me too. I know a lot of folks are under the impression that the current system of the Council having executive authority lends itself to extra bureaucracy, but the truth is that it prevents us from having a mayor elected on a lot of bunk promises and then running the city into the ground for the whole term until we can boot him/her out. It’s a good way to avoid the sort of “corrupt city government dynasty” that runs cities like Chicago for decades at a time.

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  • zilfondel April 29, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Strong-mayor charter reform, anyone? I’d say this underscores one of the great strengths of our current commish government system: even your favorite politicians can let you down.

    Disclaimer: I voted for Potter. I slightly regret it.

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  • Brad April 30, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Some Things We Can Do

    1. If you live in Portland, vote an emphatic “NO!” on charter reform. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do likewise.

    2. Portland voters – Elect Sam Adams as Mayor in 2008.

    3. How about the bike commuters putting on a show of force? After this Thursday’s ride, start to schedule a series of destructive compliance rides. Pick a major thouroughfare each week like Burnside or Broadway, ride VERY LEGALLY using our state approved rights to the traffic lane. We stop at each light, feet go down, we don’t exceed the speed limits, we yield to peds, etc. The bottom line is that 100 riders following the letter of the law will snarl rush hour traffic for an hour or more. It would likely take four or five light cycles to get that many riders through. Get 1000 out and it will take hours to slog through downtown in a car.

    Morning rush? Making folks late to work might be more powerful. Wear signs stating, “Hate Today’s Commute? Call Mayor Potter and demand funding for Bike Master Plan.”

    Make it legal and friendly so the cops can’t do a damned thing about it.

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  • bicycledave April 30, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Todd #36 thanks for the link to the KGW poll. I’d like to point out how they’ve framed their question: ” Yes, it will boost our bike-friendly reputation.” How about “Yes, it will help make our streets safer and our air and water cleaner!” or “Yes, this will actually save our tax dollars in the long term by reducing maintenance costs!” “Yes, I’ll really wish this had been funded 10 years from now when gas is $6 a gallon and I can’t afford to drive anymore!”

    It’s no surprise this poll losing. Most people could care less about spending scarce tax dollars to “boost our…reputation” be it bike friendly, lumberjack, web foot or whatever.

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  • Matt Picio April 30, 2007 at 9:19 am

    This is why I despise KGW’s reporting:

    “Mayor Potter is reducing the amount of money City Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams wants to spend on a bike master plan.”

    No, he’s eliminating it. He’s reducing the total amount of bicycle spending, but completely eliminating spending for the plan.

    “That’s a shock to cyclists who thought they were a higher priority.”

    The way this statement is worded perpetuates the elitist bicyclist stereotype.

    “But Potter says $300,000 is enough to keep Portland as one of the top bike-friendly cities in the nation”

    Not a problem with KGW’s reporting on this one – but if the mayor really said that, he’s seriously clueless. The total city budget is over $2 billion. This means that bicycle spending is less than 1/50 of 1% of the city budget. It’s also less than 1% of the transportation department budget.

    Oh, and my favorite quote here regarding the mayor:

    “Potter said it’s disappointing to hear that cyclists are upset because he feels he has been a big supporter of the cycling community”

    Um…. right.

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  • Lenny Anderson April 30, 2007 at 9:37 am

    The mayor obviously sees Portland as a “Copper” bike town, as in send the cops out to write tickets for coasting thru a stop sign.

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