Archive for July, 2011
Earlier this month, WABA rode with Councilmember Jack Evans through his ward, including on L, M, and 15th Streets, NW. Afterward, he expressed his support for both the L & M cycletracks and the 15th Street cycletracks. Later that week, he reportedly met with DDOT Director Bellamy to communicate the need to complete the L & M Street cycletracks.
Earlier this week, WABA rode with Councilmember Tommy Wells through the area covered in the Frederick Douglass Bridge Environmental Assessment (EA) –which includes portions of wards 6 and 8. Councilmember Wells had previously expressed concerns similar to those expressed by WABA in our comments on the EA and, by letter, asked Director Bellamy to resolve those concerns as the project moved forward.
But Councilmember Wells’ ride had the additional benefit of bringing together cyclists and the DDOT decision-makers who will have to do the nuts-and-bolts work to make the project a success.
In an email to a DC listserv, DDOT’s Mike Goodno–one of several DDOT attendees–wrote after the ride:
Thanks to everyone’s questions last night, we have some excellent community input when we begin the design phase of this project. The following is our list of the issues discussed. For those who attended last night, please let me know if I am missing something.
* Lack of designated bike lanes or cycle tracks included in FEIS preferred alternative for S. Capitol Street north of the Douglass Bridge
* How safely bicyclist will be able to navigate the proposed traffic circles on both sides of the bridge, including the travel design speeds of both and any special accommodations being included for bicyclists. There was concern that if you are on the wrong side of the bridge, it may be difficult to cross the many exit and entrance lanes of the circles. The particular example used was if they are cycling on the downstream side and they then want to get to historic Anacostia. How would they do this?
* Making sure the shared paths across on both sides of the new bridge are wide enough to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles at the same time, not narrow like the current bridge
* Why is the new bridge being built south of the existing bridge?
* Making sure a mechanism is in place for more frequent and improved removal of trash and debris from the path than currently happens
* Having ramps, rather than stairs to allow bicyclists to ride rather than walk from the bridge paths to portions of the Riverwalk Trail on both sides of the river
* How soon new bridge could be built if funding were available?
* More clear understanding of the routes bicyclists could travel between the bridge and metro stations southeast of the river
* Improved bike accommodations, such as a wider sidewalk/shared path on Firth Sterling so bicyclist don’t have to navigate the Streetcar tracks
* The group expressed broad support for continuation of the existing Suitland Parkway Trail along the pkwy to the West side of the Anacostia Metro station. People wanted a separated bike path, as opposed to the current on-street signed route, and mentioned that the current facility is not safe for children to bike on. The group also discussed the connection of an extended Suitland pkwy trail to a proposed Firth Sterling trail. Group expressed a need to connect both of these points to the Anacostia River Trail, either through a separated alignment along Howard Rd, or an alternate route.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. Thank you to Councilmember Wells for organizing and to DDOT for listening. It’s crucial to ensure that those responsible for funding and building our infrastructure have the opportunity to see, hear, and feel the impact of their decisions on cyclists.
Have your elected officials (city, county, state, District, federal) been on a bike and seen firsthand what works, what doesn’t, and where improvements are needed within their jurisdictions?
Have you invited them?
(Don’t worry. If they say yes and you want assistance, give us a call. We’ll talk you through it or come along.)
Last night, Councilmember Tommy Wells hosted an evening bike ride through parts of Southeast to explore the planned South Capitol Bridge Project. WABA joined CM Wells, representatives from the DC Bicycle Advisory Council, DDOT’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Program, DDOT’s new head engineer, and many community members. Discussions centered around the traffic circle (to be built on the southeast side of the bridge) and the traffic oval (to be built on the northwest side) and access to the bridge from Anacostia via Howard Rd. & Firth Sterling Rd. If you have not already done so, take a minute to read WABA’s complete comments on the project.
Both Fox 5 News and WAMU were on hand to report on the event, and while WAMU’s story strayed from the point a bit by focusing on the crossing of the current bridge rather than the ride’s real purpose–making the area safer through improvements to the bridge and surrounding infrastructure–it was great to see area leaders, reporters, and a diverse group of bicycle advocates riding together to improve an important connection across the Anacostia River.
Last night’s bike ride gave the community an opportunity to ride together and experience firsthand the current conditions, and to evaluate the intended improvements to the new bridge and surrounding area. The ride was both enjoyable and productive, and we thank Councilmember Wells and his staff for their work in coordinating such an opportunity for on-the-ground public input.
WABA is extremely happy to have been able to work with the Achieve Kids Triathlon Summer Camp for a second year in a row. This year’s Achieve camps took place at Benning Park Community Center, Deanwood Community Center, Ferebee Hope Recreation Center, and Turkey Thicket Recreation Center. WABA’s participation in the Achieve summer camps not only allowed us to continue our youth education efforts in DC throughout the summer, but it also let us focus the majority of that work in Wards 7 and 8, coinciding with our ongoing East of the River Initiative.
Achieve campers range in age between 9 and 14 and each camper is provided with all the necessary equipment to participate in camp activities, including helmets and bicycles. With the basics taken care of by the Achieve coaching staff, we were able to set up more complex and advanced skills courses. When planning for the classes, WABA wanted to find a good balance of skills that campers would be able to use both in the race and outside of camp on the streets of DC. “We were hoping that our young athletes would gain a better understanding of their bicycles and how to properly use them,” said Jeff Horowitz, Achieve Program Director.
We decided to take our Confident City Cycling 1 and 2 material (our interpretation of the Bike League’s Traffic Skills 101 Curriculum), usually taught to adults, and tailor it for a younger audience to provide a challenging and engaging experience for the campers. We started slow with a simple starting and stopping drills, then moving onto scanning and signaling. Then we upped the ante by seeing if they could handle our avoidance maneuver drills. The achieve kids were fearless! In no time we had them nailing quick turns, avoidance weaves and emergency stops like professionals. “Teaching the full Confident City Cycling material to kids is an excellent opportunity to cover the curriculum in depth. The kids are engaged, excited and soak up the material like sponges. It’s exciting to see,” said WABA staffer Greg Billing. After visiting each camp twice WABA turned the achieve campers into confident cyclists ready for their race at the end of the summer.
WABA would like to thank Jeff Horowitz, Michelle Hardberg, and all the Achieve coaches for making camp memorable for the kids and WABA staffers. Be sure to check out the race Friday August 5th, 8am to 12pm at the Anacostia Park & Aquatic Facility. To learn more about the Achieve Kids Tri summer camp or to volunteer for the race on August 5th visit: http://achievekidstri.org.
It’s been four months since we launched our East of the Anacostia Program to engage and encourage cyclists and cycling east of the river. Up to this point we’ve focused on getting more people on bikes by providing free bicycle repairs and holding a contest to provide bikes and Capital Bikeshare memberships.
We will still be working with The Bike House to provide repairs throughout the summer, but we have completed the contest, delivered the bikes, repaired 150 residents’ bikes, and now we’re ready to ride.
We have tweaked our event schedule–traditionally slower in July and August as we regroup before the 50 States Ride–to provide opportunities for the cyclists and families we have recently met during our East of the Anacostia Program to hit the roads and trails with our WABA members and cyclists from all parts of the region. We hope you will join us!
Saturday, July 30th, 2011 3PM
Join WABA for a family-friendly bike ride along the Watts Branch corridor in celebration of summer and our beloved Marvin Gaye Park Trail. We’ll begin this leisurely 3 mile ride at the Deanwood Metro Station, just blocks away from the trail-head, and traverse across the scenic bike path. We’ll stop along the way, point out area attractions, and finish up at the Watts Branch playground.
For more information and to register, please visit the event page.
Yards Park Ride
Friday, August 12th, 2011
Over the river and through DC’s neighborhoods to Yards Park we go! Riders of all ages and skill level are encouraged to join us for Yards Park’s “Bike to the Concert Night”. Meet up with WABA for a leisurely 2.5 mile ride beginning at the Anacostia Metro Station. We’ll enjoy an evening of live music by QuietFire, DC’s soulful funk band, dancing and a variety of food and drinks. This event is free and all riders who attend by bike will receive free lemonade!
For more information and to register, please visit the event page.
Oxon Run Ride
Saturday, August 27th, 2011
Bring out the family and Join WABA for a group ride along the Oxon Run Park Trail. We’ll begin our 3 mile loop at the Congress Heights Metro Station, just blocks away from the trail-head and make our way across the area’s flat, scenic bike path nestled in the Oxon Run community. Come have some fun, explore the city and meet your fellow WABA members and staff!
For more information and to register, please visit the event page.
Saturday, September 24th, 2011
Gear up for the most unique and challenging bike ride in DC! This 60+ mile ride is for cyclists experienced and comfortable with riding through the city streets with traffic. The 50 States ride covers all 50 state streets in all 8 Wards in search of the District of Columbia’s statehood. Often been referred to as “brutal,” “insane,” and “engrossing.” For those interested in a less intense, but equally enjoyable ride, our 13 colonies ride is for you! Ride on all the streets named for every one of the 13 original colonies. This ride is a little under 15 miles and is also for cyclists who are comfortable with riding on city streets with traffic.
Last year over 500 participants conquered the 50 states. Will you be one of them?
For more information and to register* please visit the event page.
*registration will be capped at 500. Don’t delay- register today!
Other Area Events
The City Bikes crew hosts a mountain bike ride to Fort Dupont, every tuesday night and a Wednesday night road ride (sock and beer prizes for fastest climb up Oxon Hill and fastest flat sprint)! Meet at Capitol Hill location at 6pm for both rides.
Meet up with the BicycleSPACE every Saturday from 8 to 10 AM for a ride through the hills of South East DC. Check out their website for other reoccurring rides in the area.
Check out their Facebook group and join the ladies for rides throughout DC–often on the third Saturday of the month.
DC’s first kid-centric ride group organizes events at least once a month. Visit their website and stay tuned for event details on a possible “East of the River Ride” in September.
Thanks to you, our WABA members and supporters, the Maryland State Highway Administration is very likely to adopt a sign that says “Bicycles may use full lane” and post the sign on many roads where lanes are too narrow to share side-by-side. But most narrow roads are operated by local governments, and we don’t yet know what they will do.
A quick recap of where we are on this issue. As Maryland’s new Driver Manual points out, often “the safest place for a cyclist to ride is in the center of the lane.” If you ride too close to the right edge, people pulling out of side streets or driveways may not see you. Some drivers pull a few feet onto the pavement before stopping and observing traffic. It is not practicable for a driver to yield to you if she cannot see you. So Maryland’s general requirement to ride as far to the right as practicable and safe, means that one should ride within a few feet of the right side of the roadway, not along the right edge. And many lanes are too narrow to share side-by-side even if you do ride all the way to the right. Yet some drivers will try to squeeze past, which is very unsafe. Recognizing this safety issue, the Maryland Transportation Code allows a cyclist to use the full lane if it is too narrow to share side-by-side with an automobile.
Unfortunately, many drivers do not realize that cyclists are just trying to be safe and responsible when they ride in the center of the lane. Some drivers yell, honk, or aggressively pass a bike with very little clearance as if to say “you are not where you are supposed to be.”
Michael Jackson of the Maryland Department of Transportation has been concerned about this problem for the last decade, and has long advocated the use of signs to inform both cyclists and motorists that bicycles can use the entire lane. (He first noticed such a sign along 13th Street, NW (see photo by Michael Jackson) while bicycle commuting to school during the 1970s.) But for a sign to become widespread it must be part of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Fortunately, Jackson is also on the Bicycle subcommittee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which revises the MUTCD every few years. He helped persuade his subcommittee to put forward the R4-11 sign, a white rectangular sign that says “[bicycles] may use full lane.”
The R4-11 sign became part of the federal MUTCD in December 2009. Many states automatically adopt the MUTCD; but Maryland has its own MUTCD, which is similar—but not identical—to the federal MUTCD. Last summer, the Glenn Dale Citizens Association asked SHA to post R4-11 signs in and around Glenn Dale. In May, SHA responded that it had decided not to adopt the R4-11 sign. We did not find out about that letter until late June, at which point, we sent an alert advising members to write the Governor and other key officials and ask them to reverse that decision. More than 600 people did so.
Within days, Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation Beverly K. Swaim-Staley responded to the 600+ people who wrote, promising that SHA would issue guidance for the R4-11 sign, and referring people to Tom Hicks of SHA.
About a week later, Mr. Hicks sent me a graphic of a yellow diamond sign with the wording “[Bicyles] May Use Full Lane.” It was the same as the original sign that SHA had rejected in May, except with a big yellow diamond instead of a modest sized white rectangle. WABA’s executive director Shane Farthing told me: “Few people other than those in this email chain will care whether it is a white rectangle or a yellow diamond.” So we told SHA that this sign would be fine and explained to SHA that our main concern is not the shape and color of the sign, but with the widespread use of the sign to communicate both that cyclists may be in the roadway ahead, and that they have a right to be. Another SHA official told me that SHA staff was pleased with its innovation and likely to post the signs wherever communities sought them.
Highway officials pleased about a sign that says “Bicycles May Use Full Lane.” That’s progress!
State officials still appear to be deliberating on whether the yellow diamond or white rectangle is the way to go. WABA and other Maryland advocates have steered clear of taking a position on that question.
But we do want to see these signs along the streets where we ride, not just in the manual. Montgomery County intends to post the signs. But Prince Georges County has been less enthusiastic. Last May, Haitham A. Hijazi, Director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T) told Shane Farthing and me that he would only be willing to post the sign on roads with at least two lanes in the same direction and neither a shoulder nor a sidewalk. (In subsequent correspondence, DPW&T has also emphasized that even along these multi-lane roads they will not post the official R4-11 sign from the MUTCD, but instead will post the older “Bicycles may use full right lane” signs.)
For almost a year, DPW&T has been saying that it will not post R4-11 signs (or sharrows) on narrow two-lane roads. I am not sure why—or whether everyone at DPW&T objects to the R4-11 signs for the same reason. Last fall, I asked DPW&T to put sharrows and an R4-11 sign on a short and narrow section of Church Road, on which I rode when taking my daughter to pre-school. The planners from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission quickly endorsed my request because the county master plan shows this road as a bike route. But DPW&T wrote back and denied my request on the grounds that the geometry of the road was inappropriate for the warning sign. The letter referred me to Cipriana Thompson, P.E., who agreed that with 10-ft lanes, “this is a use full lane situation.” But the Department would not post R4-11 signs “because posting such a sign would imply that we endorse riding on this road, and we do not believe that people should ride bicycles on this road.” Director Hijazi generally made the same points. He recognizes that people ride these roads, but does not agree with WABA that this implies a duty to warn drivers.
DPW&T believes that signs and pavement markings increase its liability because doing so would imply endorsement of riding those roads. Today, cyclists ride those roads at their own risk. The County has never stated that all of its roads are part of the cycling transportation network. Installing signs and pavement markings would in effect endorse biking on those roads, making the county liable.
Both the University of Maryland and the City of Baltimore are already using the sign, with plans for more. Laurel plans to use the R4-11 sign with sharrows. On the other hand, Harford County activist Jeff Springer doubts that his county will use the signs. Most counties have not even thought about it. 
The variation of opinion among the localities is typical of many issues. Yet I am struck by how the “old-school” state highway engineers have found a way to be comfortable moving forward on this issue, while their local counterparts have not. Certainly the policy decision by Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation caused SHA to take a second look at the issue; but principals of traffic and safety—not political pressure—are what really brought their thinking around. Many of the localities have traffic people with skills, backgrounds, and outlooks similar to Tom Hicks. Rather than rushing the process of adopting guidance for R4-11, SHA should engage those localities to give as many of them as possible an opportunity to buy into the process and feel ownership in the final product.
We are not asking the highway departments to tell cyclists where to ride. We are just asking for a warning sign that clearly tells drivers that cyclists may be using the full lane. The limitations of the “[Bicycles] share the road” sign are palpable to anyone who takes the time to think about it. Engaging SHA about a new sign could motivate several localities to actually take the time, and find merit in a sign that they would never use if it simply showed up as an option in the MUTCD.
(Jim Titus is a member of WABA’s Board of Directors from Glenn Dale, Maryland in Prince Georges County)
 For example, if you ride with your tire less than 1 foot from the pavement edge, your left shoulder has to be at least two feet to the left of the pavement edge, which would be 8 feet to the right of the double-yellow line, if the lane is 10 feet wide. If a typical 7-foot SUV wants to pass you with the legally required 3-foot clearance, then its left side must be 10 feet to the left of your shoulder, which would be 2 feet across the double yellow line. So that SUV cannot pass you safely if there is oncoming traffic.
 Minutes from meeting between WABA and DPW&T, May 24, 2011.
This weekend’s event at the Malcolm X Recreation Center felt more like a neighborhood bike party than a mobile bike shop. While children spent their time racing bikes around an impromptu velodrome or partnered up with mechanics from The Bike House , families relaxed in the shade sharing popsicles and pleasantries. Be sure to check out Miss V’s recap and our slide show for pictures.
You might’ve noticed that here in the DC region, we’re embroiled in our annual heat wave. Temperatures are hovering in the triple-digit range, air quality alerts and heat advisories are a daily routine. Even some of us who ride our bikes year-round don’t find too much enjoyment biking in these circumstances, but there are a few tips we’ve learned over the years to make the best of the blistering heat:
Dress for success
Staying cool is all about preparation. First of all, get ready to get sweaty. It’s inevitable, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the whole point of sweating is that it cools you down, right? You should be thinking about wicking or evaporating fabrics for your shorts and shirt, usually polyester. Whether you go the full-on lycra route is entirely up to you. Light colored clothing reflects heat away from your body.
Other things to consider: arm/leg coolers, sunglasses, summer bike gloves, biking in sandals, lots and lots of sunscreen (30 minutes before stepping outside & every 2 hours thereafter).
Plan your route carefully
Change up the time of your ride and try to get out on your bike early, before the heat of the day sets in. Alternatively, wait until after the sun has gone down to ride. Remember, Rock Creek Park is always a few degrees cooler than anywhere else.
Try to prioritize shady streets and pick out shade-covered or air-conditioned rest locations ahead of time. It’s always worthwhile to plan a bail-out option: put your bike on the bus or lock it up and call a cab.
Other things to consider: stopping to fill your water bottle(s), avoiding large hills, riding through sprinklers.
With overheating a serious concern, it’s important not to overexert yourself. Hyperthermia and heat stroke are caused by prolonged exposure to heat and humidity and are dangerous conditions that can result in disability and death. Take them seriously! Ride slowly, take breaks often, and don’t be too proud to call it quits.
Other things to consider: telecommuting, knowing your limits.
Pack extra water and make this your motto: Drink Before You Are Thirsty. Remember that you can fill your water bottle for free at area TapIt locations.
Other things to consider: camelbaks, drinking energy drinks to replace electrolytes.
From the project website:
The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are proposing rehabilitation of the 1.7-mile segment of Oregon Avenue, NW, between Military Road and Western Avenue….
The purpose of the proposed action is to rehabilitate Oregon Avenue to satisfy operational and safety needs and done so in a manner keeping with the setting of the project area. Context sensitive solutions will take into account the adjoining land uses – residential developments to the west and Rock Creek Park to the east. Improvements to the corridor will consider all modes of transportation including buses, bicycles and pedestrians.
Currently, this portion of Oregon Avenue is significantly degraded and contains no provision for bicyclists. Unfortunately, some neighbors oppose the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave. Therefore, it is important that neighbors and District residents who support or would benefit from bicycle facilities along Oregon Ave. provide input on the project.
View Oregon Ave EA in a larger map
The four transportation alternatives are as follows:
- Alternative 1: No Build. This alternative would include spot repairs but no improvements for bicyclists or pedestrians. The EA states that it “does not meet the purpose and need of the project.”
- Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build. The second alternative would create no bicycle accommodations of any kind, but would include a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side of Oregon Ave.
Alternatives 3 and 4 are both divided into a southern and northern section at Bingham Drive, in which the southern section is built according as in Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build (i.e. no bicycle accomodations, 5 ft. sidewalk on west side) due to limited DDOT right-of-way.
In the northern sections:
- Alternative 3: Shared Use Path. The third alternative incorporates a 10 ft. shared use path on the west side to serve two-way cyclist and pedestrian traffic.
- Alternative 4: Bike Lanes. The final alternative would provide a 4 ft. bike lane in each direction and a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side, with the bike lane and sidewalk separated by a 10 ft. vegetated swale.
WABA supports the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave., so clearly favors Alternatives 3 and 4 over those alternatives that do not provide any bicycle facilities.
In Alternative 3, much depends on the design of the multi-use path–and many cyclists who approach from the roadway will prefer to stay on the roadway rather than mix with pedestrians regardless. In Alternative 4, there is an on-road bicycle facility in each direction–though the east-side lane abuts a curb and is only 4 ft. wide.
While individual cyclists may reasonably differ in their preference for a multi-use path or bike lanes, WABA supports the on-road facilities included in Alternative 4. Here, the multi-use path is so short than any advantage in safety due to physical separation may be surpassed by the added danger of entering and exiting the path outside the normal flow of traffic. Additionally, many cyclists will prefer not to mix with pedestrian traffic or divert to a multi-use path that extends less than one mile, and therefore will choose to ride on-street even where the path is present.
Therefore, WABA supports Alternative 4. We recognize that under most circumstances, the east side bicycle lane should be wider than 4 ft. when alongside a curb in order to meet AASHTO standards. However, given the space constraints and the included reduction of the travel lanes to 10 ft., the incorporation of a mountable curb with 4 ft. bike lane provides the best proposed Alternative.
Please CLICK HERE to contact the project team and provide your input. Comments must be received by July 29.
The full Environmental Assessment of this 1.7 mile stretch of Oregon Ave. can be found HERE.
Thank you to everyone who attended WABA’s “What to do After a Crash” discussion on Tuesday evening, and special thanks to Peter Baskin, Bruce Deming, and Tom Witkop–our trio of bicycle lawyers–for sharing their wisdom with us.
Everyone who attended received a copy of the revised “Pocket Guide to Washington, DC Bike Laws” and advice from attorneys who represent cyclists in Virginia, Maryland, and the District.
For those who were unable to attend, the basics are covered in the RESOURCES section of our website HERE.
We look forward to hosting more of these informational events in the future and hope to see you there.
Last week, we contacted the lucky winners of our Get On a Bike contest and delivered five brand new 2011 Jamis Commuter bikes, plus locks and helmets, to their doorsteps. Thanks to BicycleSPACE and On-Guard for supporting the giveaway. And thanks to DDOT for helping to expand beyond our initial goals and provide a total of 50 Capital Bikeshare memberships as part of this program.
When Sondra, a resident of Fairfax Village was asked how a bike would change her life, she responded: “If I had a bicycle I would ride into the sunset, the sunrise, and ride for no reason at all because I love the outdoors.” As an active member in her community, Sondra feels like this new bike will impact not just her own lifestyle but those of her friend’s and family’s as well. “In the long run it will make me stronger and healthier, and I envision that others will be encouraged by me and will want to follow suit.” When we met up with Sondra and delivered her new bike she couldn’t contain her excitement and burst into song, belting “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!”
The most common responses among applicants were increased physical activity and improved personal well-being. Rob of Hillcrest, another winner claimed that a bike would lead to a more active and healthy lifestyle. “A bike would provide an opportunity for my partner and I to explore our neighborhood as well as neighboring communities from a different perspective in addition to much needed cardio exercise.” The last time Rob road a bike was more than 10 years ago. After his first spin around the block Rob exclaimed, “I am one Happy Camper, no- I’m one Happy Biker!”
Others, like Keith, were already considering using a bike for daily commuting. ”I would like a bike so that I can begin to commute to work. I currently drive and would like to change that habit. It really isn’t that far and it’s about time that I joined this bicycle movement.”
The first phase of our East of the Anacostia program has focused on getting bikes on the road by providing free classes for beginner cyclists, free bike repair and maintenance , and the ”Get On a Bike” contest–which directly puts five more bikes and fifty more bikeshare riders into the mix east of the river. In the next phase of WABA’s program, we will be working to get those cyclists with their new skills and new (or newly functioning) bikes riding together and riding regularly.
And as always, we thank the many WABA members and supporters who donated to the East of the Anacostia program. Our advocacy and outreach initiatives are only possible with your generosity and continued membership and financial support.