Bike Intelligencer » cascade bicycle club All bike, all the time Wed, 13 May 2015 21:53:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News Cycle: Holiday greetings on two wheels Thu, 02 Dec 2010 17:15:13 +0000
Seattle Likes Bikes witnesses a hit and run.

Ruthie Matthes will highlight ROMP’s holiday party.

Jacquie Phelan reviews Thirty Ears of Appetite Seminars.

After a friend is killed on a bicycle, a 10-year-old invents a new bike-safety device.

A Yankees pitcher hurt his shoulder riding in Mexico, but no details on how. Let’s hope he was ripping it up in, say, Copper Canyon at the time.

In the Seattle cycling community, CBC usually stands for Cascade Bicycle Club. It could also stand for Cyclists Behaving Cluelessly.

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Mia Birk Has a Message for Seattle Cyclists Sun, 07 Nov 2010 15:47:09 +0000
Portlander Mia Birk will bring her new book “Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet” and her cheerful cycling evangelism to REI at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for an informative and entertaining evening. Try to go, you won’t be disappointed.

At a time when cycling advocacy is in Seattle’s political crosshairs, Birk has just the right message to the bike community: Don’t get defensive, hold your ground and push ahead, because in the end even your opponents will come to appreciate the progress you make.

Birk has the wherewithal to talk. She was bicycle program manager for Portland through the 1990s and shaped the foundation for Portland’s bike-friendly reputation today. She then joined Alta Planning + Design, expanding it to more than 100 employees and the nation’s leading firm specializing in bike and foot planning, design and implementation. Using a winning smile and political savvy, Mia has fought battle after battle for the things we take for granted today: Bike lanes, bike paths, bike parking, bike culture.

“Joyride” chronicles the behind-the-scenes battles that Birk and bike advocates engaged in to bring progress to Portland and turn it into the nation’s No. 1 cycling city. It’s easy to forget that before Birk’s tenure, Portland was a cycling also-ran. Portland didn’t have a lot of bike facilities, “and people didn’t ride,” she notes.

What the years of trench warfare taught her was that “it’s never easy,” she said.

“The first reaction (to bike progress) is always, ‘That’s a little scary’,” Birk said in a phone interview. “Change is hard.”

There can be resistance and even anger. But eventually “people figure out that life goes on, and everything we do to enhance cycling is good for the life of the city.”

So when you bring up the midterm elections, where some key cycling advocates were defeated … or when you think about how Cascade Bicycle Club is suffering internal tension over how to approach cycling advocacy … or when you hear the terms “bike backlash” or “war on cars” — to all those things, Birk says hey, “Welcome to the bike world, it’s always been this way. We’re making progress, so there’s a perceived threat.

“We’re driving a cultural shift where you trade off motor vehicle space for bike lanes. This is deep, fundamental change. It’s not like just adding a bike lane and Boom, you’re done.”

There’s always a few outspoken business owners who oppose cycling interests — while getting mischaracterized as “the business community” in general. Many leading cyclists in any city also belong to “the business community,” Mia notes. A great strategy is for “cyclists who are business owners to get involved in business groups as business owners.” Over time, they can work their cycling agenda into the business community through organizations like downtown associations, chambers of commerce, business alliances and other key outlets.

“You just have to keep emphasizing the message that cycling transportation works,” Birk said.

Another strategy is simply to get associates out for a ride. “I can talk sometimes till I’m blue in the face without making any dent,” Birk said. “But when you get people out on a bike, things start to change.”

As for the elections, Birk is not as cowed as some within the cycling community appear to be.

“We lost Jim Oberstar but still have Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and a number of leaders,” she said. “I don’t see we’re going to roll back any of the progress we’ve made.”

The midterms may have impacted bike policy at the national level, but that’s not where most of the key initiatives are being made, Birk noted. Federal money can help fund projects but does not carry thumbs-down weight. If local communities want to build more bike infrastructure, they can come up with dollars from other sources.

Seattle is a shining example, she said:

“It’s very impressive the amount of fundraising Seattle has done at the local level for bicycle projects. You’re already ahead of the game.”

Birk also has some penetrating wisdom to share regarding turmoil at Cascade Bicycle Club (Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance went through similar contortions in firing a popular director, Scott Bricker, a year ago), the future of the “Missing Link,” how cycle paths and bike access create opportunities for business development, and how elected leaders can expand bike infrastructure.

“Joyride” is available through local bookstores and, and Mia will have copies on hand at her REI appearance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at REI, 222 Yale Ave. N. More about Mia at her Web site. Mia also posted at Cascade’s blog.

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Update: Elections May Change Bike Legislation Strategy in Washington State Thu, 04 Nov 2010 00:48:03 +0000
Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club’s endorsed list of bike-friendly candidates fared well in Tuesday’s election, a preliminary rundown indicates. Despite the fact that most were Democrats in a supposedly Republican sweep, the majority won by healthy margins well above 50 percent.

But some key losses, plus Republican gains and the tenor of the election overall, may put bike advocates in a more defensive position.

“We’ll be in the position of defending good state laws as opposed to advocating new legislation,” said David Hiller, Cascade’s advocacy director and cycling’s key point person in the Olympia legislature. Cascade will still work to persuade the State Legislature to adopt vulnerable-user legislation — which made considerable progress while falling short of approval the past two years — in the new legislative session, Hiller said. But “it’ll be more of an uphill battle,” he admitted.

The state senate, always more of a roadblock, particularly “presents a difficult picture,” Hiller said. “We will really miss Senators Randy Gordon and Eric Oemig.” Other key supporters in the loss column included Reps. Roger Goodman (45th District) and Geoff Simpson (47th). Goodman “was a big fan of vulnerable-user legislation.”

In the meantime, our incomplete (and early) tabulation showed 35 Cascade-endorsed candidates winning and just six coming up short. (Cascade endorsed 50 candidates overall; some returns have not been reported as of this writing.)

Hiller said Cascade is waiting on 10 races still too close to call, with six trending favorably.

Big winners included Joe McDermott for King County Council (68 percent), Rep. Jay Inslee (not on Cascade’s list but a big club booster), at 56 percent, State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (82 percent), Rep. Eileen Cody (79 percent) and Representatives Bob Hasegawa, Sam Hunt and Maralyn Chase, among others.

Other supporters cited by Hiller included Senator Adam Kline, an overwhelming victor at 87 percent in the 37th District, and Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th) and Marko Liias (21st).

Additional Cascade-backed candidates who appeared to be turned away included Rep. Tom Campbell (2nd District), Sumner Schoenike (26th District), Jake Fey (27th District) and Senator Chris Marr (6th District).

Further reading: Around the nation, cycling candidates faced varied success.

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More on Cascade Bicycle Club Turmoil Fri, 29 Oct 2010 22:49:40 +0000 The Seattle Times has posted a piece on Cascade Bicycle Club’s growing influence on Seattle politics:

I think we’ve hit a critical mass, where bikes are transformed from this really fringe group to being a relevant part of the population,” said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a cyclist who relied on Cascade’s support in his first run for elected office last year and founded the council’s bike caucus.

The Times also hosted an online chat this morning with club representatives.

And over at SeattleLikesBikes, a post has gone up urging readers to recall the club’s board of directors. More to come …

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Cascade Bicycle Club Leadership Still Unsettled Sat, 23 Oct 2010 21:48:56 +0000 Cascade Bicycle Club’s tumultuous annual meeting on Thursday did little to further the club’s progress in soothing the Chuck Ayers-David Hiller imbroglio.

The board of directors fumbled a golden opportunity to calm the waters by getting the membership fully aired and drawing some talking points from the gathering for moving forward. (We’d suggested breaking into small groups and having leaders report back to the plenary). Instead, heated exchanges prevailed.

So what next? There’s a movement afoot to bust the board. A few good candidates — notably SeattleLikesBikes’ Michael Snyder — have emerged, but it will take some persistent organizing between now and the board election to clear the air and set a solid agenda for the club.

In the meantime, here’s a sampler of recent coverage:

Seattle Bike Blog covered the meeting.

Publicola’s Twitter feed.

Cascade’s message board reflects little confidence in the board of directors.

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All Smiles As Chuck Ayers Returns to Cascade’s Helm Wed, 13 Oct 2010 14:38:53 +0000 Big smiles and good feelings abounded last night at the Cascade Bicycle Club’s BikePAC fundraiser following the reinstatement of Chuck Ayers as executive director on an interim basis till a successor can be found.

“It’s been a tough week for the board,” a buoyant Ayers told the gathering of about 50 cycling insiders, adding to long applause: “If we could get our politicians together like we came together to move an agenda, we’d have a lot of things move in this country — quickly.”

After a week of turmoil that, according on one board member, “felt more like a month,” the move defused a potential mutiny within club ranks and set the stage for a forward-looking agenda at its upcoming annual meeting next Thursday at REI.

The popular veteran club leader was fired unexpectedly a week ago by the board after refusing to resign. Board members, many of whom were recruited by Ayers, felt the 13,000-member, 24-staff organization had reached the point where a different leadership skill set was required. Longstanding members and staff, however, saw the move as a threat to Cascade’s bike advocacy efforts, as well as a signal the club was becoming more “PC” and corporate-like.

David Hiller, left, and Chuck Ayers: Together again

Discussion among dissidents remains ongoing of recalling board members and/or supporting write-in candidates on an extant ballot. But Ayers’ reappointment removed a potential ring-leader from the equation and also clarified the standing of advocacy director David Hiller, an Ayers lieutenant whose future was cast into doubt by Ayers’ firing.

While numerous challenges remain organizationally, the move was widely greeted as calming the waters.

When the two stood before the group to hand out door prizes, it felt like an affirmation of the approach that boosted club membership by more than 30 percent in the past two years. Ayers’ reappointment was set for six months but can be extended. He will work with the board and membership to provide a smooth transition to new leadership.

On hand were four Cascade-endorsed legislative leaders, including City Council members Mike O’Brien and Tom Rasmussen, King County Council candidate Joe McDermott, and Rep. Jay Inslee.

Inslee put forward a five-point plan — “three serious, two comical” — for national policy with the admittedly optimistic goal of emphasizing a system “where the default position is the bicycle.” Non-motorized vehicle use should be closely integrated with land-use planning, Inslee said. And under the proposed National Transportation Objectives Act, motorized transport per capita per mile would be reduced by 16 percent over the next decade, with CO emission cut by 40 percent.

Inslee’s less serious propositions: Change the national motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “The funny free feeling of feeling freewheeling.” Second, the Cascade club criterium should be held around the top perimeter of the Space Needle.

Inslee, who rides a classic 1981 Cinelli, said the demands of Washington “have killed my bike riding.” But he vowed to “keep pushing” to ensure bikes are included in federal transportation policy.

BikePAC, the club’s political action division, helps raise money to support bike-friendly candidates.

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Cascade Bicycle Club Issues Elaboration on Chuck Ayers’ Firing Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:59:10 +0000 In a long letter to its membership, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club confirms our earlier analysis while shedding little light on the future of other officials, including advocacy director David Hiller. More later, but here’s the letter as posted on the club’s blog:

The following is a message from Chris Weiss, President and Chair, Board of Directors of Cascade Bicycle Club:

Dear members,

First, let me thank you for your ongoing support and your commitment to the Club. Since we announced the Board of Directors’ decision on Monday to make a change in our Executive Director, some of you have asked for more information about why we made the decision. On behalf of the Board, I want to share a few more details with you.

On Monday, Oct. 4, we met with Chuck Ayers to summarize management issues we had discussed with him for many months, to explain our need for a smooth transition in leadership and to request his resignation. After a long and respectful discussion, Chuck declined our request and the Board terminated his employment.

This decision was very difficult for the Board. All of us are avid cyclists. Chuck personally recruited most of us to serve as volunteer Board members. He’s our friend. Chuck is a person of the highest integrity and we deeply appreciate his contributions to the Club over the years. We considered our decision very carefully, over time and always through the lens of what was in the best interest of the Club now and for years to come. Difficult as it was, it is the right decision.

Cascade Bicycle Club was founded 40 years ago as a grassroots membership organization. The Board is charged with overseeing the Club’s financial viability, charting its strategic direction and supervising the Executive Director, including, if necessary, deciding whether the ED should continue to lead our Club. These core governance responsibilities are essential to the long-term viability and effective function of Cascade Bicycle Club.

Over the past few years, the Board consistently has supported Chuck and the Club staff. In addition to being responsible stewards of the Club’s finances, we evaluate and approve electoral endorsements recommended by the staff and authorize Cascade’s legal challenges, such as our successful battle with Lake Forest Park to protect the Burke Gilman Trail, the ongoing BGT Missing Link litigation, and our current challenge to the legality of the Transportation 2040 Plan.

The Board fully supports the public policy positions and strong advocacy voice of the Cascade Bicycle Club. We are 100% committed to Cascade’s continuing role as an unwavering and consistent grassroots voice to demand safe and accessible streets and trails for cycling and cyclists.

So, why the change?

As Cascade’s membership has grown – now to more than 13,000 members – so did the staff (now 23 employees), our programs and the complexity of our operations, demanding different management skills than in our earlier years.

The Club’s public voice now helps to shape our region’s transportation policies. We are one of the most potent political forces in the region and one of the strongest and most influential advocates in the nation for cyclists and cycling. To continue to be a successful advocate – in fact, in order to strengthen our advocacy while also enhancing our rides, programs and activities – we must become more strategic and focused. When tough tactics are called for, we will not shy away. But we also must build coalitions and back up our beliefs with reason and with dignity. Cascade Bicycle Club is its members, and we must always be mindful that when we speak, we represent each of you.

Chuck’s leadership helped build our advocacy position. However, increasingly, his leadership style resulted in actions and public statements that periodically were counterproductive to the image we wanted for our Club and jeopardized our lobbying to secure passage of the Vulnerable User Bill and many other advocacy initiatives. The Board grew more and more concerned that this underlying management philosophy would limit the Club’s effectiveness in serving members as well as its appeal to donors and sponsors. Critical comments of Cascade began to arise not just in the media, but among the grassroots cyclists and citizen advocates who are the lifeblood of our Club, risking the polarization of the community against cycling as Seattle moves forward with many pro-cycling reforms.

These issues are only part of a larger assessment of the Club’s leadership needs. Over the past few years, the Board has worked with and consistently supported Chuck in his efforts to promote growth and to position the Club for the future. More recently, our views have increasingly diverged regarding how the Executive Director should best execute his duties to ensure the efficient and effective management of the Club. To go into further detail about this personnel issue, and the specifics of how the Board worked with Chuck to address the Board’s concerns, would be inappropriate and inconsistent with our desire to respect Chuck’s privacy. Ultimately, only after a long process and after many careful discussions with Chuck, did the Board reach its conclusion that a change was necessary in order for the Club to realize its potential.

A change in leadership is not unusual in the business world or the nonprofit world. Many organizations find themselves at a crossroads where the successes of existing leadership cause the organization to evolve to the point where continued success requires a different style of leadership, fresh perspectives and new ideas. This is where Cascade is today.

The Board is deeply appreciative of Chuck and of the many accomplishments Cascade made under Chuck’s leadership. During his 13-year tenure, Chuck, staff, volunteers and our sponsors helped grow Cascade into the nation’s largest cycling organization. Cascade runs thousands of rides and manages dozens of events and educational programs each year. And, as noted earlier, we are influential advocates for policies to benefit cycling, cyclists and communities. Now that the Club has reached this level of success, we need an executive director who can build upon these accomplishments and expand our potential over the next decade.

This growth demands that Cascade remain a powerful voice in advocacy. Again, I want to emphasize that the Board is 100% committed to Cascade’s existing policy positions and to our identity as a grassroots organization. We endorse our local governments’ continuing strong actions to improve and extend bike trails and make bold changes to improve cycling on our roads.

To ensure a smooth transition and the ongoing operations of all our programs and activities, Board Vice-Chair Peter Morgan has taken on daily management duties for the next several weeks. A veteran cyclist, Peter is on leave from the Board and is serving Cascade pro bono. Through 2009, Peter was the Executive Vice President at Group Health. He brings extensive management experience to the role and has worked closely with Cascade staff this year in framing Cascade’s almost-completed strategic plan. The Board will immediately begin recruiting an interim executive director who will likely serve for three to six months before we hire a permanent executive director.

We will post the Executive Director job description soon. With the involvement of the Club’s staff, the Board will look for a visionary and dynamic organizational leader with experience in inspiring members, staff and communities. We’ll be looking for an ED with experience managing a large organization so that we can drive and manage continued growth.

In closing, it is important to remember that all of us are the Cascade Bicycle Club – not just a single individual – and, together, we are the voice of cyclists and cycling.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the transition further. The Annual Meeting of the Cascade Bicycle Club is on Thursday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. at REI. We encourage you to come. Again, thank you for your continued support.

Chris Weiss
President and Chair, Board of Directors
Cascade Bicycle Club

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News Cycle: Today’s bike links Wed, 06 Oct 2010 14:12:18 +0000 Given controversy over Chuck Ayers’ firing and questions over the future direction of the organization, Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual meeting at REI on Oct. 21 should be a real barnburner. Already its message board is popping with folks saying they’ll be there to ask what’s up.

The first Outerbike, a kind of mega version of Interbike’s traditional Outdoor Demo pre-event in the Las Vegas desert, apparently went well.

Photo op: A bridge at Grand Ridge.

All the people riding had $3,000 bike at home and they left psyched to buy a $5,000 bike,” said Ashley Korenblat, owner of Western Spirit Cycling. “All the super high end brands just killed it. They were totally slammed.

On Issaquah’s Grand Ridge, the best close-in cross-country mountain biking trail to Seattle, the Washington Trails Association and King County Parks will dedicate the new Canyon Creek bridge on site at noon tomorrow.

In the case of a cheeseball tricycle capable of genitally lacerating tots, Toys Rn’t Us. The trikes have been recalled by Fisher-Price under the auspices of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dangerous trike

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What’s Behind Chuck Ayers’ Dismissal from Cascade Bicycle Club? Tue, 05 Oct 2010 10:57:50 +0000 Any organization growing as fast as Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club — from 4,500 in 1997 to the nation’s largest at more than 13,000 today — is going to have to shed a skin or two. For Cascade, that means a shakeup in leadership that will take the little club we and bicycling grew up with in Seattle over three decades into the big leagues of civic, political and organizational boardrooms.

Casualty No. 1: Executive director Chuck Ayers. (Others will surely follow, as we speculate on the future of the club’s advocacy director, David Hiller.)

Ayers was fired by Cascade’s board of directors yesterday with an announcement that seemed abrupt but was the culmination of months of backroom agitation. He will be replaced temporarily by Peter Morgan, who took leave from the board to assume the post of acting executive director. Cascade hopes to name an interim executive director within “the next several weeks” pending a nation-wide search for a permanent ED, timeline TBD.

Offering a salary of $80,000 to $100,000, the club thinks it can attract a top-tier, experienced executive with a flair for cycling but the leadership chops of a corporate officer.

Although we didn’t know him well, Ayers seemed a likable, low-key, quietly effective guy. But he did not strike us as a visionary leader who could provide a flashpoint of visibility for Cascade tantamount to its growing clout. Ayers was a great club president-type; by all indications, Cascade is looking for something more along the lines of a CEO for its next phase.

Good idea? Bad? So far, a lot more heat than light has been shed on Ayers’ departure. Already frequent posters on Cascade’s message board (forum) are scratching their heads, asking for more info from both Ayers and the board. First and foremost: What does this mean for the direction of the club?

Nothing, board members are saying. Something — perhaps big, Ayers and club skeptics are suggesting. But what?

The signals we’re getting indicate that style and vision are at the heart of Cascade’s shakeup. No one is saying that Ayers is a bad executive, just that a different skill set is needed.

That said, the whole affair could have been handled far more smoothly. Instead of resisting, Ayers could have bowed out gracefully by resigning with the usual excuses about more time with family (and for cycling!). The board’s press release could have been worded a bit more professionally, thanking Ayers and leaving it at that rather than “Chuck is no longer the right person.”

But the vision thing is definitely a sticking point. Both Ayers, in a comment to Publicola, and the club (in its press release linked above) mention the term “grass roots.”

Board members say grassroots organization will remain a primary focus, while Ayers seems to suggest that Cascade is getting too big and “professional” to remain true to its constituency.

There’s also a hint of sell–out. A “club” that operates more like a Chamber of Commerce is by nature going to compromise on advocacy, i.e. “grassroots” activism.

Our interpretation: “Grassroots” is code for common folk. There’s a sense that Cascade, seeking to travel in more powerful corporate, fiscal and political circles, will lose touch with its “user base.” The club board denies this of course.

In truth what really happens in this scenario is that the old-timers — founding and longstanding members — do feel alienated. Many complain, some leave. But the organization has to move on.

Instinct tells us that Cascade will continue advocacy, but with a quite different approach. More politically subtle and polished — yes, more “corporate.” But more effective as well.

It all reminds us of a similar wrenching transition undergone by the (now named) Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. One morning Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (BBTC) members awoke to learn that the BBTC board had changed the club’s name as well as its focus, vision and hierarchy — all without consulting the grassroots membership.

Many of the old guard, including we at Bike Intelligencer (as a paid lifetime member of BBTC), were none too pleased. But the change proved fruitful. Two years later Evergreen is a far bigger institutional player in the mountain biking, freeride and trails scenes — both regionally and nationally. As for advocacy, it has added two mountain bike parks, a strong county and regional trails presence, and broad educational and rider-training program to its resume.

Those close to Cascade say the club is committed to keeping intact its adept juggling act of recreation, education and advocacy. While that may turn out to be the case, make no mistake —Cascade is in the midst of a sea change. It won’t be your father’s bike club any more — but as my own dad used to say, there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Tomorrow, tomorrow … Fri, 01 Oct 2010 15:51:08 +0000 Reminders of a full weekend for cycling activities coming up — and for once the weather looks to be smashing.

High in the Methow...

First, Seattle’s own world champion and Olympic medalist Jill Kintner will be at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park in Issaquah to spotlight Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. As Kat Sweet, Cascade Bicycle Club youth program coordinator and ride leader put it, “This is a great way to bring the mountain bike community together and get kids excited about riding.”

Cascade and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance are teaming up on the event, the local version of the International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. There will be plenty of stuff to do, from riding and jumping to drawings for great gear. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. things will be popping!

As for high-country mountain biking, Winthrop will be the scene this weekend with its annual Methow Valley Bike (and now Film) Festival, highlighted by the premiere of “Pedal-Driven,” a film looking at Pacific Northwest trail use and conflicts and how they get resolved. The Winthrop Barn will be the focal point but lots of stuff going on, including rides, a bike giveaway, presentations and film showings. Be sure to stop and say hi to Joe Brown at Methow Cycle and Sport right on Highway 20 down from the Barn.

Spokespeople destination South Lake Union Park.

For cyclists new to Seattle, getting back in gear or just wanting a relaxing ride, Spokespeople will do its monthly group ride, this time to the newly opened South Lake Union Park that has been getting rave reviews. Gather at 10 a.m. at the usual place, the Wallingford playfield, for a fun time with great folks.

No matter where or what you ride, the weekend promises to offer lots of wheel time!

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