"Decide for yourself"

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
thirdcrank
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Re:

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Mar 2018, 11:58am

leftpoole wrote: ... Cycle helmets are a good thing! ...


My point is that that's irrelevant once Cycling UK has decided they are not. (See published policy.)

A charity's trustees are bound by law to keep their organisation on the strait and narrow with regard to its objectives.

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Cugel
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Cugel » 28 Mar 2018, 1:30pm

RickH wrote:The trouble is, in my experience the vast majority of riders on the CTC group rides that I participate in, or see photos of in their linked Facebook groups & webpages, wear helmets. ....... If other member groups & affiliated clubs are similar (I've no idea if we're typical or not) then getting many photos of riders without helmets is going to be an uphill struggle.
.......


The power of those who promote helmets lies now largely in this status quo of helmet-are-normal. Pro-helmet lobbies have very little in the way of evidence-based material to justify cycling helmet use. The weight of evidence, studies, meta-analyses et al seems fairly clear concerning the lack of any real safety improvements offered by helmets in 99% of cycling situations.

The buying and use of spurious stuff is, though, a generalised feature of current modern life. We live in a consumer society where wealth & power, not to mention status, is largely acquired via the production & consumption of stuff. Conspicuous consumption is now a norm; fashion also rules; reasons for using things often have little to do with their utility other than as a fashion/status symbol.

*****
It wouldn't be difficult for Cycling UK/CTC to promote their own viewpoint concerning helmets via imagery, on the website and in the magazine. They do so concerning many other cycling fashions. For example, Cycling UK website and magazine don't show all cyclists as superfit faux-racers, as do the great majority of other cycling magazines and websites. Ordinary folk abound. Perhaps the ordinary folk could be pictured taking ordinary risks with ordinary precautions - no helmet unless you're being a racer, faux or otherwise. :-)

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Mick F
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mick F » 28 Mar 2018, 4:53pm

Cugel wrote:The power of those who promote helmets lies now largely in this status quo of helmet-are-normal. Pro-helmet lobbies have very little in the way of evidence-based material to justify cycling helmet use. The weight of evidence, studies, meta-analyses et al seems fairly clear concerning the lack of any real safety improvements offered by helmets in 99% of cycling situations
My sentiments entirely.

I wish I had the eloquence to put it across like that, and to convince people of the error of the status quo being the best way.
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby mjr » 28 Mar 2018, 5:40pm

The most convincing argument I've made recently:

It should be easy for helmet promoters to show some real-world positive effect if there was one, shouldn't it? Much easier than it is for unfunded opponents to show that the previous completely-unhelmetted cycling would be safer if combined with modern safety improvements that would have cut casualty rates anyway.

Instead, the helmet pushers have tended to concentrate on lab tests (we know they work in the lab - they're not allowed to sell them otherwise), small samples (often self-selected and self-reported - in other words, interested helmet users with an obvious interest in justifying their often-expensive purchase) and theoretical brain models. I think where they have tried real-world analysis, it’s been rather indirect and almost immediately challenged by more ethical scientists, to the point where I struggle to find any that haven’t been thoroughly discredited.

So, here's a graph of the dramatic effect increased helmet use has on head injury rates:
Image
(source)
Ah. Ooops. Can you see a connection? Because I can't.

Wouldn’t helmets offer an immediate increase in protection if they worked without drawbacks? There seems to be something undermining them - this could be the “safety in numbers” effect mentioned, but it could be more direct, such as attempting to balance a quarter-to-half pound on top of your head making falling more likely, or wrapping your head in thick insulation leading to poorer decision-making (this has been studied in cricketers wearing helmets on hot days IIRC), or simply the impaired hearing from wind noise over helmet straps having a small negative effect.

There’s another interesting graph from Ontario, I think, where they started compelling helmets and usage went up, then stopped and usage slowly declined again, all without any significant change to injury rate trend, but I didn't find a copy online just now.

Of course, this lack of successful real-world protection means mere theoretical and self-reported evidence is rarely enough to get helmet laws, so helmet enforcers have used dirty tricks like publishing reports too late for opponents to respond (such as Jersey) or exploiting a child’s death (such as in NZ - especially sick IMO because helmet makers explicitly say they won’t work against being hit by cars).

I think use of such unethical tactics mean we should be very very sceptical. Bike Snob NYC recently called out helmet pushers as “a manifestation of our deep, Victim-Blaming-Syndrome-induced contempt for the act of casual cycling” and I feel there’s something to that - don't you?
Last edited by mjr on 28 Mar 2018, 9:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Shuggie » 28 Mar 2018, 7:21pm

mjr, superb. Can’t argue against your logic. +1


I'm a trendy consumer. Just look at my stupid phone. Pro

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Cunobelin
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Re: Re:

Postby Cunobelin » 28 Mar 2018, 7:56pm

mjr wrote:
leftpoole wrote:Cycle helmets are a good thing!

Is it pantomime season already?

Oh no they're not!



As above ... so are melons

Image

I fact they are better as there is stacks of evidencethaet cycle helmets (especially badly fitted or adjusted0 can significantly cause or increase injury, yet there is no proof the melons cause injury

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Cunobelin » 28 Mar 2018, 8:04pm

mjr wrote:The most convincing argument I've made recently:

It should be easy for helmet promoters to show some real-world positive effect if there was one, shouldn't it? Much easier than it is for unfunded opponents to show that the previous completely-unhelmetted cycling would be safer if combined.

Instead, the helmet pushers have tended to concentrate on lab tests (we know they work in the lab - they're not allowed to sell them otherwise), small samples (often self-selected and self-reported - in other words, interested helmet users with an obvious interest in justifying their often-expensive purchase) and theoretical brain models. I think where they have tried real-world analysis, it’s been rather indirect and almost immediately challenged by more ethical scientists, to the point where I struggle to find any that haven’t been thoroughly discredited.

So, here's a graph of the dramatic effect increased helmet use has on head injury rates:
Image
(source)
Ah. Ooops. Can you see a connection? Because I can't.

Wouldn’t helmets offer an immediate increase in protection if they worked without drawbacks? There seems to be something undermining them - this could be the “safety in numbers” effect mentioned, but it could be more direct, such as attempting to balance a quarter-to-half pound on top of your head making falling more likely, or wrapping your head in thick insulation leading to poorer decision-making (this has been studied in cricketers wearing helmets on hot days IIRC), or simply the impaired hearing from wind noise over helmet straps having a small negative effect.

There’s another interesting graph from Ontario, I think, where they started compelling helmets and usage went up, then stopped and usage slowly declined again, all without any significant change to injury rate trend, but I didn't find a copy online just now.

Of course, this lack of successful real-world protection means mere theoretical and self-reported evidence is rarely enough to get helmet laws, so helmet enforcers have used dirty tricks like publishing reports too late for opponents to respond (such as Jersey) or exploiting a child’s death (such as in NZ - especially sick IMO because helmet makers explicitly say they won’t work against being hit by cars).

I think use of such unethical tactics mean we should be very very sceptical. Bike Snob NYC recently called out helmet pushers as “a manifestation of our deep, Victim-Blaming-Syndrome-induced contempt for the act of casual cycling” and I feel there’s something to that - don't you?



The Trek Anthem C helmet is a classic example of the self testing regime.

Isn 2006 t passed the CPSC tests for sale and in the US and other countries was released

Then an independent company took some "shop shelf" helmets and tested them...they failed EVERY SINGLE TEST

The entire production run was recalled

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Mick F
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mick F » 29 Mar 2018, 11:20am

Just trying to get my feeble brain round that graph.

Is it saying that at the beginning of that graph in 1990, the head-injury rate was nearly 60% of cyclists and by 1996 is was down to just over 40% of cyclists?

If true, I don't believe it in the slightest.
If not true, there's something wrong with the two traces using the same scale.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby pwa » 29 Mar 2018, 11:31am

Mick F wrote:Just trying to get my feeble brain round that graph.

Is it saying that at the beginning of that graph in 1990, the head-injury rate was nearly 60% of cyclists and by 1996 is was down to just over 40% of cyclists?

If true, I don't believe it in the slightest.
If not true, there's something wrong with the two traces using the same scale.


Regardless of what the lines really mean, in the real world with all its complexities, linking rates of helmet use (or non-use) to rates of head injury will always be a messy business with lots of uncertainty. What else was happening to affect cycling safety / danger at the same time? Helmet use would certainly not have been the only relevant change going on. How did recording of head injury change or stay the same over that period?

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby roubaixtuesday » 29 Mar 2018, 12:02pm

Mick F wrote:Just trying to get my feeble brain round that graph.

Is it saying that at the beginning of that graph in 1990, the head-injury rate was nearly 60% of cyclists and by 1996 is was down to just over 40% of cyclists?

If true, I don't believe it in the slightest.
If not true, there's something wrong with the two traces using the same scale.


If you follow the link to the source it's explained.

http://www.cycle-helmets.com/AAP2001DLRNZHI.pdf

It's the percentage of injury causing accidents to cyclists not involving a car that did result in a head injury.

Ie (head injuries in non - vehicle related accidents)/(non - vehicle related accidents causing any injury)

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Mick F » 29 Mar 2018, 12:10pm

Thanks. :-)
Mick F. Cornwall

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The utility cyclist
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby The utility cyclist » 1 Apr 2018, 3:43am

Mick F wrote:
mjr wrote:................. which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right.
I think you are only right-ish.

Sitting on the fence is all well and good, but you need a specific policy.
Choice is fine, but advice is another.

BMX and off-road MTB you would think needs helmets and knee pads and gloves etc. Do the CTC/CUK advise on this but sit on the fence for other cycle activities?

isn't this a cyclical problem and made even worse in higher risk activities, those in competition push to the limit, feel more protected push even more and then have more incidents. This is replicated in many sports including motor-racing.
You only need look at the incident rate in competitive cycling (deemed hi risk of incident) cycling since helmet mandation, half a dozen crashes a stage seems to be the accepted norm these days and despite all the extra on course safety, better medical care, more marshals etc there are more deaths.
I'd say for safety's sake these high risk variations of cycling need to have helmets taken away ASAP.

Deem that protection is needed so wear helmets, more risks and more crashes which equal more injuries, rinse and repeat, that's why no sport or activity has become safer due to helmets being introduced, not one!

CUK should be anti helmet not because of how futile it is wearing them and the little protection they offer but because of the damage promotion of helmets and wearing of such has done to people riding on bikes as a whole. Victim blaming, focusing on the vulnerable to protect themselves and in doing so absolve criminals from their crimes (which happens all the time, even police, courts etc have fallen into this way of thinking).
It's got to a point where cycling clubs are excluding people from rides if they don't wear a helmet, it means mass participation rides are excluding and not being inclusive, it makes cycling seem dangerous, it's meant cycle training at schools excludes children, it's meant schools/headteachers/local authorities are effectively blaming kids for their harm (As giov like to do) and enforce rules outside the boundaries of their powers and in doing so further discourage cycling. Let's not even get to the criminalising of cycling and punative penalties for riding without a helmet in some countries, that riding without a helmet is illegal (I won't say unlawful because it simply isn't despite ACTS of parliament)

That CUK are not anti helmet is frankly a mystery and extremely disappointing, or maybe it's not because it would seem some people within the charity aren't capable of making a stand, don't want to upset some people. Yet they claim to be an organisation that fights for rights and yet my right to cycle in various activities has reduced dramatically, my right not to be victim blamed is reduced massively, my right to have a fair trail in court or civil case is reduced, scrutiny on those that present the harm is reduced (Recent focus on the Aliston case and dangerous cycling law backing disgusting mis-use of cycling funds for infra that does nothing for safety only increases motor traffic flow, the list goes on.

If the pedestrian who died in the collision with Aliston was wearing a helmet surely it would have saved her life, why didn't the charity stand up and make a point about that as they're clearly not anti helmet? They could have made a very valid and important point if they had done so!
They won't even come out and state the facts regarding the extremely low reduction of forces a helmet can offer in best case in lab testing, to my mind I think the majority of people at CUK headquarters actually believe helmets are a good thing and have as seen by inaction and by stealth (more photos of helmeted riders in the magazine) will lazily sit on the fence because they know that a pro choice stance doesn't stop people from wearing but equally it doesn't make people think that helmets are a bad thing, which they clearly are for all the reasons and more that I've stated and that many others have.

I'm most definitely in the anti-helmet camp

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby Cugel » 2 Apr 2018, 4:56pm

The utility cyclist wrote:
Mick F wrote:isn't this a cyclical problem and made even worse in higher risk activities, those in competition push to the limit, feel more protected push even more and then have more incidents. This is replicated in many sports

.......

I'm most definitely in the anti-helmet camp


Although I baulk at being entirely anti-helmet, I find myself agreeing with all you've ranted (I mean said) in your post. :-) I really do.

I can see a case for cycling helmets in some inherently hang-banging aspects of cycling, such as BMX tricky-riding or charging along trails in forests full of overhanging branches. However, such helmets would need to be far superior in their protective abilities to the 7Nm (at best) absorbing polystyrene hats typically worn by road cyclists. The fact is that, even if the risk of head-bang justified a helmet (and that risk seems low, even when increased by the inclination to take more risks when wearing one) such helmets would need to perform far better than they do.

The advertising gives away the whole charade. They are sold as being lightweight, highly ventilated and pretty, with safety function never mentioned or tested-for by sellers or reviewers. In fact, being lightweight and well-ventilated greatly decreases their ability to protect your head if it does get banged.

Cycling helmets are a swizz, on many levels. I'm coming to believe, after reading posts here along with various references quoted, that Cycling UK should indeed be campaigning against what is a poor product, which doesn't work to provide it's supposed function and which detracts from the real safety issues whilst actually increasing the risk of an "accident".

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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby gaz » 2 Apr 2018, 6:00pm

thirdcrank wrote:... Here is where the evidence seems strongest and it's to the contrary, so a policy of "no compulsion" seems to me to be evidence-based, (edit to add) even though it was originally reached by the CTC for reasons of expediency, as I tried to explain earlier.

I thought it might be worth a link to a much older thread, suggesting the "no compulsion" stance is because of the evidence base, not expediency nor democracy.
David wrote:Along with other members of the National Council ... CTC could not sensibly support something which would reduce the number of cyclists - and therefore damage the health of the nation - even if members voted for it.
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Re: "Decide for yourself"

Postby pjclinch » 3 Apr 2018, 10:53am

The utility cyclist wrote:
Mick F wrote:
mjr wrote:................. which would make CUK's policy of informed sceptical freedom of choice about right.
I think you are only right-ish.

Sitting on the fence is all well and good, but you need a specific policy.
Choice is fine, but advice is another.

BMX and off-road MTB you would think needs helmets and knee pads and gloves etc. Do the CTC/CUK advise on this but sit on the fence for other cycle activities?

isn't this a cyclical problem and made even worse in higher risk activities, those in competition push to the limit, feel more protected push even more and then have more incidents. This is replicated in many sports including motor-racing.
You only need look at the incident rate in competitive cycling (deemed hi risk of incident) cycling since helmet mandation, half a dozen crashes a stage seems to be the accepted norm these days and despite all the extra on course safety, better medical care, more marshals etc there are more deaths.
I'd say for safety's sake these high risk variations of cycling need to have helmets taken away ASAP.


Yes, but... It's almost certainly a bit more complicated than that.
First up, Mick F's thoughts about e.g. off-road MTB. Would you think you need a helmet? That would depend on all sorts of things. On a typical Saturday morning I trundle up to some local off-road and school some of the generally younger and less capable members of Discovery Junior Cycling Club in the basics of bike handling as a precursor to competitive MTB racing. We wear helmets, partly because the insurance demands it but also because that's the way the game of MTB racing is played. We also insist on gloves but not being in the downhill game we don't worry about pads (which just make cycling up hills harder). Though I traverse the forest to get to our meeting point I don't put my helmet on until I arrive because I'm taking a gentle trundle and not taking much in the way of risks. When we're encouraging people to overtake while tired in restricted spaces then that's a very different matter: same place, same me, very different context. Similarly, if I'm using my MTB to save an hour's walk on a landy track when potting a remote Munro I won't bother with a helmet, any more than I would if I was walking. If I was racing on the same path, even if the rules didn't require it, I'd think about it at least. Comfort and convenience wouldn't be an issue, but put it in to a racing context and the chances of falling off go up a lot. And the design spec of a helmet is the sort of thing where the main point is not saving your life, but getting back on your bike without losing much time rather than saying "ow!" and nursing a throbbing head.

For sport we've a couple of problematical issues. Firstly, sport cycling is more dangerous than everyday cycling but exactly how dangerous is quite often up to the competitors. People were getting dead before compulsory helmets, and indeed it's arguably the case that part of why we have compulsory helmets is a "we must do something; this is something; so we'll do this" reaction to another fatal head injury. But taking some recentish high profile crashes as examples, in both men's and women's Olympic road races in Rio and when Ritchie Porte crashed out of last year's Tour de France amid complaints that the courses were dangerous... They were as dangerous as the competitors were willing to make them, and I could easily negotiate them at my own comfortable speed and the folk that won the races weren't complaining! Does a helmet make you take more risks there? Well, maybe, but what about the prospect of an Olympic gold medal or le maillot jaune? Any of those is an entire career justification for a sports professional, and since they're getting paid for it too, there's the money. These things were all enough to kill riders long before helmets were part of the scene.
Secondly, very little hard evidence is available for helmet effects within the context of sporting events. With general effects for everyday riders we have a situation where we don't know if they're any good because the studies aren't conclusive, but in the sports arena we don't know because nobody's really got much data to work with (impossible to collect any now to show the differences, because everyone's wearing...). While both boil down to "we just don't really know", they are necessarily treated differently. For everyday cycling you have a public health policy intervention built on sand with possible negative public health effects from discouragement, and for sport you don't.

The utility cyclist wrote:Deem that protection is needed so wear helmets, more risks and more crashes which equal more injuries, rinse and repeat, that's why no sport or activity has become safer due to helmets being introduced, not one!


But sport isn't just about being safe. When I go downhill skiing I cruise down easy blues on my light telemark gear and am laughed at for making my life difficult with free heel skis, making things deliberately awkward in return for Style Points. "Sensible" people bolt their heels down and wear much stiffer boots to give them more control... which they then use to up the ante and do far more difficult runs at higher speeds (i.e., making things deliberately awkward in return for Style Points).

The utility cyclist wrote:CUK should be anti helmet not because of how futile it is wearing them and the little protection they offer but because of the damage promotion of helmets and wearing of such has done to people riding on bikes as a whole.


Yes, but... It's almost certainly a bit more complicated than that.
There is nothing wrong with a helmet per-se for an individual that wants to wear one, and CUK has a lot of members that, for whatever reasons of their own, do want that. The problem comes when helmets are misconstrued as "essential", and while a lot of this is down to their over-promotion (often with wildly inaccurate estimations of their efficacy) for blanket values of "all cycling" it's not helmets that need to be black-listed but that over-promotion bereft of context. CUK shouldn't be anti-helmet, because if one of its members wants to practice for a TT they shouldn't be discouraged from doing that in what they'd wear on the day, or any one of countless little reasons specific to individuals and their own contexts. Being universally against helmets for all cycling would be similarly myopic to deeming them "essential".

The utility cyclist wrote:It's got to a point where cycling clubs are excluding people from rides if they don't wear a helmet, it means mass participation rides are excluding and not being inclusive, it makes cycling seem dangerous, it's meant cycle training at schools excludes children, it's meant schools/headteachers/local authorities are effectively blaming kids for their harm (As giov like to do) and enforce rules outside the boundaries of their powers and in doing so further discourage cycling. Let's not even get to the criminalising of cycling and punative penalties for riding without a helmet in some countries, that riding without a helmet is illegal (I won't say unlawful because it simply isn't despite ACTS of parliament)

That CUK are not anti helmet is frankly a mystery and extremely disappointing, or maybe it's not because it would seem some people within the charity aren't capable of making a stand, don't want to upset some people. Yet they claim to be an organisation that fights for rights and yet my right to cycle in various activities has reduced dramatically, my right not to be victim blamed is reduced massively, my right to have a fair trail in court or civil case is reduced, scrutiny on those that present the harm is reduced (Recent focus on the Aliston case and dangerous cycling law backing disgusting mis-use of cycling funds for infra that does nothing for safety only increases motor traffic flow, the list goes on.


What I want to happen is for Rule 59 to be gutted (the bit about avoiding clothes that get caught in the transmission can stay) and for the government to take a lead in realising that a pile of confused and contradictory evidence is no basis for public health advice and to stand up and say "we made this advice on what seemed like a sound basis at the time, we no longer think the evidence is good enough to support the advice so we're withdrawing it, if you want to keep on using these things we don't have clear evidence they're bad for individuals so you go right ahead". That's what's needed, and CUK being "anti-helmet" wouldn't actually help that. Indeed, it would give politicians an excuse to ignore them.

The utility cyclist wrote:If the pedestrian who died in the collision with Aliston was wearing a helmet surely it would have saved her life, why didn't the charity stand up and make a point about that as they're clearly not anti helmet? They could have made a very valid and important point if they had done so!


You seem to think being right would be a sound basis for winning the argument. I'm afraid that's probably naive, because we're talking about culture and psychology and it's much fuzzier than logic.

The utility cyclist wrote:They won't even come out and state the facts regarding the extremely low reduction of forces a helmet can offer in best case in lab testing, to my mind I think the majority of people at CUK headquarters actually believe helmets are a good thing and have as seen by inaction and by stealth (more photos of helmeted riders in the magazine) will lazily sit on the fence because they know that a pro choice stance doesn't stop people from wearing but equally it doesn't make people think that helmets are a bad thing, which they clearly are for all the reasons and more that I've stated and that many others have.

I'm most definitely in the anti-helmet camp


You need to understand that telling people they're wrong will typically not change their minds. What it's far more likely to do is give them what they see as an excuse to ignore you. This is true even of people with scientific training and some knowledge of cognitive bias, let alone Joe & Jane Public. What you have to do is persuade them that they have made sensible choices which were right in the contexts they originally made them, but that things have moved on and it's time to re-evaluate. This is non-trivial in the best of cases, and this is not the best of cases. I know this is so, and yet I seem to spend a lot of time telling people they're wrong, it doesn't work, etc. etc. You'd think I'd be through the learning stage by now, but there's a few light-years to travel yet.

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