Witnesses: Teen crossing Aloma struck by 2 vehicles, killed

Orlando Sentinel – Oct. 10, 2010.

Read the full article about 17 year old Kasön Bailey’s death here.

This is the second pedestrian death at this location since a crosswalk was installed in early 2008.  This accident is particularly upsetting to me since I advocated for the crosswalk knowing there was high pedestrian activity there and a high probability of accidents.  Obviously much more needs to be done.

The accident location is midway between the Forsyth Rd and Palmetto Ave intersections, both of which have signalized pedestrian crosswalks.  The distance between these two intersections is 2/3 mile, and this location has high pedestrian activity because there are apartments on one side of Aloma, and businesses on the other.  Strip shopping centers and a RaceTrac convenience store attract local residents day and night.  The crosswalk is not signalized and is unlighted, although there are occasional street lights and light from businesses along the street.

At this point I don’t know if the victim was in the crosswalk or not.  But regardless of whether or not he was, it is painfully obvious that pedestrians are not being adequately protected in this area and further steps need to be taken.  There are three areas in general that need to be addressed in order for pedestrians to be able to walk and cross streets safely:

  1. A sea change needs to happen to motorists’ perception of the pedestrian’s right to the roadway.
  2. Adequate pedestrian safety infrastructure needs to be approved, funded, designed and constructed.
  3. Pedestrians must be educated on the proper use of pedestrian infrastructure and exercise of their rights to use the roadways.

The accident at hand was probably precipitated by too little of each of the above being present.

Motorists’ Perception of Pedestrian Rights:

Aided and abetted by the automotive industry and transportation officials, motorists have mistakenly gotten the impression that the streets and roads are for them only, and people on bikes or walking need to just stay out of their way.  Transportation officials reinforce this notion by providing all manner of restrictions on the movement of bicyclists and pedestrians to the point where motorists are led to believe they will have adequate notice or warning if one of these interlopers is on the road.  Otherwise it’s fine to maintain the speed limit and do any of the myriad other things people do while driving these days.  This attitude has led to dangerous inattention and frequently reckless driving for conditions on the part of motorists.  The motorist thinks, “If there’s anything I need to slow down for or be aware of, a sign or flashing light will tell me.”

Public officials also reinforce this notion by failing to enforce existing traffic laws designed to protect pedestrians.  There is virtually no enforcement of pedestrian crosswalks where motorists are required to yield.

The laws protecting the pedestrian are inadequate.  In accident after accident involving a motorist hitting a pedestrian, the motorist gets off scot free, most of the time without so much as a ticket.  This entire section of the traffic code needs to be addressed to remedy this imbalance.

This perception of complete ownership of the road unless otherwise notified has to change.  It isn’t the case and never has been the case but it’s going to take a lot of re-education to change.

Adequate Pedestrian Infrastructure:

Not only do we need many more marked crosswalks where there are none today, those crosswalks need to be lighted and have user-activated beacon markers.  The Aloma crosswalk is a good example of an inadequate response to an accident risk situation.  The crosswalk is beautifully designed and signs erected just as specified in the latest FDOT documents, but it doesn’t do an adequate job of protecting pedestrians.  The only time I’ve seen a motorist yield to a pedestrian is if traffic is backed up and moving at a crawl.  If traffic is moving normally, pedestrians are ignored.  Once that pattern is established, then it is aberrant behavior to stop for a pedestrian, and no one does it.  Since yielding is not required, motorists cease to look for and see pedestrians getting ready or waiting to cross.

There are many innovative new devices and designs that will help protect pedestrians.  They need to be thoroughly researched and the promising ones implemented as soon as practical.  Public officials need to approve funding for these initiatives and give them a higher priority than road projects such as widening to six lanes which increase the risk to pedestrians.

Pedestrian Education on Infrastructure use and Proper Exercise of Rights:

Too often I hear that pedestrians disobey traffic laws and put themselves at risk.  If they obeyed the laws and used signalized crosswalks say these critics, accidents wouldn’t happen.  The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the reason the pedestrian is out there trying to use the streets in the first place:  They NEED to use the streets to get where they’re going.  And to do that they are going to take the shortest, most convenient way even if it involves some risk.  Traffic planners and designers must acknowledge this basic fact and design our roadways accordingly.  And people’s perceptions of pedestrians as outlaws putting themselves at risk must change to encompass this principal.  No pedestrian is deliberately putting themselves at risk of injury or death by choice.  They are just trying to get from point A to point B.

That said, there are areas where pedestrians can be instructed in safe use of existing infrastructure with some benefits to be gained.  Particularly with school age children, safety skills can and should be taught.

However, the most important thing that pedestrians need to learn is the proper exercise of their rights as pedestrians.  Unfortunately, this skill has been mainly taken away by the relentless attack on these pedestrian rights by transportation industry and public officials.

Using the Aloma crosswalk, I will illustrate how regaining this skill can radically change things.

What if, immediately after the opening of the Aloma crosswalk while the signs are new and fresh in motorists’ minds, pedestrians wanting to use the crosswalk got motorists’ attention by placing one foot into the roadway and waiving their arm at the motorist?  When the motorist slowed, the pedestrian advanced carefully into the crosswalk forcing the motorist to slow and stop.  The pedestrian would then do the same thing in the next lane, which would be easier because one car in the adjacent lane had already stopped.  Motorists behind the lead vehicles would observe that cars were stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.  The next time those motorists in line came to the crosswalk they would expect to stop for pedestrians and look to see if there were any coming.  If this scenario is repeated time after time, motorists would adopt the habit of looking for and yielding to pedestrians.  All this because the pedestrians that have the right to use the crosswalk and have motorists yield to them exercised that right.

If a super majority of the pedestrians that use this crosswalk had been schooled in proper exercise of their rights before starting to use the crosswalk, the preceding scenario would have happened and the crosswalk would become a valuable safety feature.

Unfortunately, what happened was that pedestrians saw the traffic speeding by, were reluctant to enter the crosswalk and so waited patiently until it cleared.  The motorists saw the pedestrians waiting for them so they continued on their way.  Eventually the motorists came to ignore the crosswalk and any waiting pedestrians altogether, thus virtually negating the crosswalk’s effectiveness.  A corollary effect of this is that pedestrians observe that using the crosswalk doesn’t buy them any additional time or convenience, so they resume their patterns of crossing where convenient.  After all, it takes exactly the same amount of time, less if the crosswalk is out of their way.

Pedestrians can be taught the proper exercise of their rights again.  We can import instructors from Manhattan.  We’ll just have to make sure they know beating on motorists’ hoods is not permissible behavior in our more placid Greater Orlando metro area.

Over the next several days I hope to learn more about the accident that killed 17 year old Kasön Bailey.  I’ll report any new information I find that impacts pedestrian safety in general.  In the meantime I hope you’ll continue to fight for the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians to share our area streets and roads safely.

30 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    A great bit of observation in the statement “motorists have mistakenly gotten the impression that the streets and roads are for them only, and people on bikes or walking need to just stay out of their way”. This extends beyond motorists into law enforcement and the judicial system, as so many of us know.

    One point of dissent. Accident implies that the incident could not be avoided and also allows one to shirk responsibility.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:


    Thanks for this, and for keeping us informed about this crash.

    Your observations of behavior are spot on! It’s a negative feedback loop. Just as with bicyclists talking back full lane use, being assertive is essential to taking back crosswalks as secure places to cross the street.

    We need enforcement and infrastructure improvements, but we also need to take action on our own behalf. Perhaps we need a “First Friday” style walk-in day where we get out there in groups and assert ourselves in crosswalks!

  3. Bill
    Bill says:

    @Fred – I agree with your comment about using the term accident. Crash is better.

    Update: I attended the candlelight memorial this evening as did at least 200 others. I talked to several people who saw the crash scene shortly after it happened. The crash was not in the crosswalk but about 100 yards to the east directly across from the entrance to the strip center and in the east bound lanes. I’m going to get a copy of the official report and look into it some more. Three things were commonly mentioned as being needed; better lighting, reduced speed limits, and flashing lights at the crosswalk.

    Keri, good suggestion, we need to get the word out. And how about something like WalkingSavvy workshops?

    BTW, check your favorite local TV news station for video. They were all there.

  4. Khal Spencer
    Khal Spencer says:

    Excellent article, Keri, and I offer my condolences to this latest needless killing. Until we hold motorists more accountable, we will continue to die senselessly and our lives be written off as “accidental deaths”.

    Our county is reticent to put in more crosswalks on busy streets since we know that motorists will not err on the side of caution regarding ped safety and people will die if they assume the crosswalk protects them. This is a double edged sword. Sure, it puts more of the onus for safety on the pedestrian, who after all, wants to stay alive. But not putting in crossings reinforces the notion that peds should get the F*** off the road and reinforces the worst driving attitudes.

  5. John Schubert, Limeport.org
    John Schubert, Limeport.org says:

    Bill, thanks for taking on this story.
    You’ve already heard me say I’m a big fan of enforcement and publicity campaigns about the enforcement as a two-part behavior modification tool.
    I also add:
    It sounds like this stretch of road needs at _least_ one, if not more than one, mid-block crosswalks. With trip generators on both sides of the road, this seems obvious. Mid-block crosswalks can be safe. They’re simpler than intersection crosswalks because there are no turning movements to consider.
    The HAWK (High intensity activated crosswalk) beacon for crosswalks has excellent statistics for increasing motorist compliance. I have mixed feelings about the HAWK beacon because I believe motorist shouldn’t need a new whiz-bang light signal to stop for pedestrians, but it sounds like this street needs them badly.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      IMO, the speeding problem isn’t as much a problem of road design there. I’m sure some things could be done to bring down the design speed. But having traveled on that road for many years, my observation is the speeding/aggressive driving is a product of trip distance (it goes way out to Sprawlando and is dominated by people with long drives) and upstream frustration (there is a lot of back-up and frequent stoppage at traffic lights prior to that section).

  6. John Schubert, Limeport.org
    John Schubert, Limeport.org says:

    Computers being what they are, I didn’t read your update until after posting my comment. With this new information, and some additional thought:
    — A mid-block crosswalk _does_ need good lighting. Among the reasons: this sounds like an area of high visual clutter. A pedestrian can be genuinely hard to see. Mid-block crosswalks are rare and not expected. So based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m saying “think real hard about the HAWK beacon.”
    — In response to Steve, I suspect that road design isn’t the main problem. Visual clutter (if indeed that’s a problem) isn’t just the road’s fault. Visual clutter includes everything remotely near the road, and the road designer has no control over that. Besides, a livable community _does_ have visual clutter. That’s part of the fun. And if you drive through it a little slower, it’s safe. Whatever motorists are doing wrong — some combination of speed, lack of attentiveness, not being quick to slow down for pedestrians — is a behavior problem. It would be a mistake to blame all of that on the road, or to assume that the only solution is to build something.

  7. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Looks like what is needed is a police enforcement operation to stake out crosswalks and lay charges against motorists who fail to stop. That has been very effective in Toronto. Motorists know that if they fail to stop for a pedestrian, there is a very high probability that they will be facing charges.

    And if they hit a vulnerable road user, they are going to jail. Since the category of “vulnerable road user” includes police officers on the road enforcing the law, police are rather keen to enforce that particular law.

    It is the rule here that a pedestrian wanting to cross points across the street. This prevents a motorist from saying “He wanted to cross? I thought he was just hanging around by the side of the road.” See this example of a sign instructing pedestrians what to do:


    And this example of a police officer enforcing the pedestrian crosswalk:


  8. Will
    Will says:

    I went out last night to my usual trip to the supermarket. Had another car do the “I’d rather drive in the opposite lane then stop for you in the crosswalk” dance. This time there was someone on the other side waiting to cross.

    I’m thinking more and more about a whistle. Time to shake drivers up.

  9. Nellie
    Nellie says:

    I get around a lot by walking and while this incident may have taken place outside of a crosswalk, I have to say from personal experience being in a crosswalk makes absolutely no difference. Those white lines make zero difference in terms of getting people to yield. I have watched people wait and wait and wait at the crosswalk on I believe it is Forsyth trying to cross the road to the other side where the trail continues. One guy made it to the middle and so he was very obviously crossing and still nobody stopped to let him finish crossing. Even if you count only the crosswalks that are controlled by lights at intersections it still makes almost no difference. With the number of times I have been almost hit and/or harassed by people turning right on the red light or turning left with a green arrow even though I am walking while a walking signal is on, I wish that all turning when the walk light is on was illegal. As a frequent pedestrian, I have to say crossing the roads here is terrifying, even crossing driveways is terrifying.

    I think that Kevin’s idea of targeted crosswalk enforcement with tickets issued could help to make people realize that it is serious, but it would have to take place often enough to keep people guessing. The tickets really should go both ways in order to be fair, peds who just run across anywhere they want should also be getting tickets.

    Should some sort of ongoing ticketing campaign fail to yield results, then I think stop bars, driveway exits, and crosswalks should be equipped with retractable tire spikes. They can be raised at the various appropriate times like when a ped is in the crosswalk, or to ensure that a vehicle stops rather than rolls past the stop bar, and then lowered again once the vehicle has yielded. A couple times of having your tires obliterated and I bet drivers will start paying more attention to the paint on the road.

    I know the tire spikes sound extreme, but I have been walking around Central Fl for 11 years now and having vehicle drivers yield to me in a cross walk is one of my biggest problems in terms of getting around by foot (and staying in one piece). The second biggest problem is that while some areas have lots of crosswalks/intersections other times it can be a hike in 90+ degree weather to just get to a cross walk.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      “The tickets really should go both ways in order to be fair, peds who just run across anywhere they want should also be getting tickets.”
      Only if you (a) cross illegally and (b) have an actual effect on traffic. There are too many places, even downtown, where it’s perfectly safe to cross on a don’t walk. Often this is because no traffic is coming, but I’ve seen places where a one-way street has a red light yet you’re not allowed to cross it.

      It’s also interesting to read the jaywalking statute. If you’re not in a crosswalk, you have to yield to traffic, but the only place it’s illegal to cross (unless there’s a sign) is between two intersections, *both of which have traffic lights*.

      And then you have the timid pedestrians. My parents will stand several steps back from the roadway if any traffic is coming, and then wonder why it doesn’t yield. (Their car-culture lifestyle includes a morning walk around the suburban neighborhood; drivers do generally yield on the residential streets if they see you’re actually crossing.)

      • Nellie
        Nellie says:

        I understand what you are saying, I figured my use of ‘run across’ would imply that I was talking about people who are doing it unsafely/illegally….or what I call frogger style. I do not mean that anyone crossing mid block should be ticketed but if you are running and playing frogger on the road mid block, then you are not really yielding the way you are supposed to in that situation.

  10. Eliza
    Eliza says:

    We also need to help our state and local transportation departments rethink their policies of spacing traffic lights as far away from each other as possible even in busy areas, which speeds traffic and provides fewer safe crossing opportunities. Some guidelines specify 1/2 mile spacing. They’ll put up with 1/4 mile spacing if they absolutely must. 1/4 mile is a general planning estimate for how far people will walk from origin to destination if they have a choice and that’s how far we expect pedestrians to walk just to cross the street.

    But the best solution of course would not to have highways bisecting neighborhoods in the first place. If they want 1/2 mile spacing that can’t be coupled with strip development. Liberalizing mixed uses could also allow more shopping and other destinations on the same side of the highway and therefore less need to cross.

  11. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    “What if, immediately after the opening of the Aloma crosswalk while the signs are new and fresh in motorists’ minds, pedestrians wanting to use the crosswalk got motorists’ attention by placing one foot into the roadway and waiving their arm at the motorist?”

    I saw this tactic being used in a video while auditing an ATE (Alternative Transportation Education)class. Even got bold and applied such tactic at a cross walk……guess what? It really does work.

    Learned a lot at the ATE class. Hope to learn more so that I may help others do the same.

  12. Mighk Wilson
    Mighk Wilson says:

    Based on what I’ve read, it sounds like the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk. But: What’s the point of the using the crosswalk when no motorist (except the rare driver fresh in from Oregon) will yield?

    • Will
      Will says:

      Someone once told me to always cross in the crosswalk, otherwise you can’t sue. Just a lesson learned from their mom.

  13. AndrewP
    AndrewP says:

    Motorists WILL yield …. albeit in certain circumstances.

    On my daily commute, I have motorists yield all the time for me as I cross streets on Cady Way Trail. This happens several times per commute, and are the rule not the exception.

    So, the question is why do they yield for me on these roads, and not on others??

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      I think motorists yield to bicyclists at the trail crossings because they aren’t sure they’re going to stop. They approach the trail crossings on alert for that reason, and they are prepared to yield. OTOH, they don’t have an expectation that a pedestrian will push for right-of-way so they don’t pay any attention to them or to ped crosswalks.

      This evening I was crossing Lake Baldwin Ln up at the North End. I had forgotten I needed to stop at the store and didn’t turn at the Baldwin/Cady trail intersection, but a block south of it. Since I was crossing at a sidewalk (rather than the trail), I decided to dismount and walk the bike. There was a lot of traffic on LBL, but it was moving slow. I gave the first driver a pass because he was close to the crosswalk when I stepped to the edge. The second one was going to drive right past me despite having plenty of time to yield to me. I stepped into the street and she stopped. Had I not been assertive, she would have taken advantage of it and continued on.

      Gotta use a crosswalk like you mean it. It doesn’t solve all the problems, but it does make a big difference.

    • Eliza
      Eliza says:

      Andrew, I thought I posted this earlier but I guess I got sidetracked; is there any different in the roads where they do and don’t stop? Perhaps we can deduce a pattern? Speed? Location? Number of lanes?

  14. Eliza
    Eliza says:

    I get a little guilty pleasure out of charging across crosswalks around Orlando much to driver’s and often my companions’ surprise. Sometimes while other peds cower on the sidewalk. In Boston this was just normal. However generally at any road operating at more than 35mph I don’t even try.

    Was driving this evening and got waved on by a pedestrian. Left turn across her (and her dog’s) path. I made sure the coast was clear and I went; no reason to go back and forth (you go, no you go, no you go; and then the cross traffic comes back). Maybe common courtesy does work better than the rules sometimes. I generally stop for cars (when I’m walking) at that intersection as well because the gaps are sufficiently predictable that it’s not a big inconvenience.

    There’s got to be some happy medium. Perhaps the rule shouldn’t always be stop. I believe when there are rules that don’t make sense (e.g. posted speeds that don’t match road design) people start ignoring the rules that do make sense. There shouldn’t be uncontrolled midblock crossings on 45 mile an hour roads. It just breeds disrespect for crossings that do make sense.

    • John Schubert, Limeport.org
      John Schubert, Limeport.org says:

      You say that uncontrolled midblock crossings don’t make sense. But from whose point of view? The driver headed home to the suburbs or the pedestrian doing the crossing? The person who got killed was trying to walk from his home to a store. Throughout most of history, walking to a store near one’s home hasn’t meant you had to cross a huge highway full of people who feel entitled to drive like they’re not in a residential neighborhood (which they are). This is a new, and stupid, development.
      Given the way people drive, many midblock crossings do need fancy lights and markings. We also need attitudes and behavior changed. There will always be people who don’t read safety blogs and want to walk to their destinations.

      • Eliza
        Eliza says:

        I think this may be a misunderstanding stemming from me using ‘trafficspeak’ (correct me if i’m wrong; maybe you understood my meaning perfectly and simply disagree). By “uncontrolled” I mean without a stop light, stop sign, roundabout or other traffic control device designed to tell cars to stop or slow down considerably.

        I’m trying to say pedestrians deserve more than an uncontrolled midblock crossing at 45mph. They deserve either a stop light or a slow enough road that walking in front of traffic on a crosswalk at night seems like a reasonable decision.

        Nothing about the design of that road tells people they’re driving through a residential neighborhood. If we expect drivers to act differently then maybe we should give them some clue of our expectations in the design of the roadway. Everything about the design of that roadway tells drivers it’s a highway and they act accordingly.

        In the absence of that then perhaps activism and bravado can make up the gap but hopefully that’s temporary band-aid, not a long term solution.

        • John Schubert, Limeport.org
          John Schubert, Limeport.org says:

          Sounds good to me. Thank you for amplifying/clarifying.
          Also: Pedestrians are genuinely difficult to see in an area of high visual clutter. Particularly at night, they just don’t ‘paint’ on the brain easily.
          This is counter intuitive for the pedestrian. He sees the car. The car has lights (which give the car a vaguely human face, the lights standing in for eyes). The lights are pointed at him. They’re bright. Of COURSE he’s readily visible, right? Often not.
          For these reasons, you are correct: better lit/marked crosswalks are necessary.

    • Will
      Will says:

      I think its real interesting how different cities have different pedestrian/car interactions. I remember after moving here from NY, learning that my perfectly safe jaywalking skills from NY could get me killed on these roads. What we would do is time the gaps frogger style. Down here, you have a good chance of a driver slowing down not knowing what you were doing. That could get you squished by the other cars.

      I also had a chance to visit Boston, and it was quite clear the pedestrian rules the roost. It was quite nice. I’m going to have to head back there at some point.

      In Orlando, I think the biggest issue is that both drivers and pedestrians believe the car should come first. The same thing in bike vs car, the car and its desire to travel come first. Nothing short of a culture change will fix either issues. What I’d love to see is a neighborhood ethos, an understanding by people that when in a neighborhood, they need to act differently.

      I don’t think we ever figured out what a neighborhood is down here. Wide painted shouldered roads through a neighborhood make it seem like there isn’t one there. Short of bulldozers fixing our far flung mistakes, we’re going to have to come up with some creative solutions, solutions that fix our car-culture imperative.

      I wish I could point a finger at speed and say “that’s it, that’s the problem” but its not. I see the same issues on smaller scale in my neighborhood. I know it’s a lot worse out in the ‘urbs, but the culture infuses through. I have 2 crosswalk conflict points on my usual walk to the supermarket, both 25mph 2 lane roads, and one saunter across robinson in an unmarked crosswalk.

  15. Khal Spencer
    Khal Spencer says:

    John Schubert makes an important point, that we have a traffic paradigm that has declared open season on pedestrians in the name of motoring efficiency. I find it impossible to convince our county to put in more midblock crossings because of the assumption that peds will try to cross the street and be mowed down by motorists who will not be alert and stop. Or, who will stop and be rear-ended.

    The problem of providing grade-separated crossings, i.e., engineer the problem away, is that it is prohibitively expensive, resulting in either nothing being done or providing just a few crossing points for a community, thus breaking it up and making walking impractical. More traffic lights become a motor vehicle management nightmare, i.e., backing up traffic into adjacent intersections.

    The next best thing is to provide enough whistles and bells to manage at-grade crossings. But what really has to change are attitudes. As John says, this problem is a new and stupid development in civilization.

    • John Schubert, Limeport.org
      John Schubert, Limeport.org says:

      In addition to being expensive and therefore infrequent, grade-separated crossings (a) are slow and cumbersome to use, and (b) beg for noncompliance by people who don’t want to climb the stairs. In most cases, the mere suggestion of a pedestrian overpass suggests that the whole community got misdesigned many years earlier.

  16. khal spencer
    khal spencer says:

    What we had to do in Los Alamos in order to get speeds down and encourage walking was to re-engineer our streets to change motorist behavior. That old expression “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck” applies, i.e., if a road looks like it is designed to be driven fast it will be driven fast.

    Central Ave. vs. Trinity Drive are a case of contrasts. There was historically a lot of pedestrian crossing on Central due to it having housing and shopping on both sides of the street. But it was a wide two laner posted at 35 mph but with de-facto speeds higher. We narrowed the lanes, provided an obvious physical transition between the highway into town and the town, and put in bulbouts and numerous marked crossings. This has lowered the measured 85th percentile speed on most of that road to the new, posted 25 mph limit. And people do stop for peds crossing the street.

    By contrast, Trinity is a five lane, 35 mph road with de facto speeds of 40-45 or higher. Its the main urban exit route for commuters outa here towards Espanola and Santa Fe (two other routes go off the hill as well, but this one is a major, heavily used arterial). Few traffic lights or crossings and during rush hours, the primary users are commuters who just want to get through there and anything that slows them be damned. I’ve seen people literally sprint across the street between traffic lights. Unfortunately, Los Alamos County is now building housing on the south side of Trinity and most of the trip destinations are on the north side. Its a fatality waiting to happen.

    The bottom line is you have to engineer the streets for your expectations. If it looks like and expressway, that’s how it will be driven.

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