Have you filled out your census? Houston lags behind the national average, with 58.4% of residents responding, compared to 66.3% nationally. Use our tool to check out how your City Council District is performing. Most importantly, make sure you and your neighbors have responded. You only have until the end of October to get counted!
To celebrate the census, my friends and I biked 75 miles to see all six “Say Yes! to the Census” murals around town. Civic engagement meets endurance cycling- we had a blast!
The murals are located all across town, strategically positioned to reach as many geographically and culturally unique communities in Houston as possible.
As part of the Census team in Houston, we helped find these locations by using data (check out David’s recent blog post to learn all about that process). This objective is actually what made the ride so special (and long 😂 )! We got a really extensive tour of the city on this ride, visiting each corner of Houston and everything in between!
Making the route was a fun challenge. I wanted to maximize our time on Houston’s growing bike infrastructure, but not at the cost of adding a lot of miles. The spread of the murals already meant we were going for big mileage– no need to increase our suffering unnecessarily. It’s a testament to the good design of Houston’s bike network that there wasn’t a big tradeoff here: over half of our ride was on protected bike lanes and trails, and this was essentially the most direct route!
We were on three bayous– Brays, Keegans, and Halls– all recently expanded or improved by the Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative of the Houston Parks Board. This was everyone’s first experience on Halls Bayou, which passes through Keith Weiss Park. It was so green and serene, you’ll forget you’re just outside the loop.
In between our bayou segments, we were also on the Columbia Tap Trail, Harrisburg Hike and Bike Trail, and Heights Hike and Bike Trail. These are all great connecting paths inside the loop. The portions on roads were also enjoyable. We really got to take in Houston and were tempted by countless restaurants and shops that we’d never seen before.
The murals were definitely the highlight of the day! We met at the Montrose mural at Light Bulbs Unlimited. I live nearby and admire this mural almost every day. It’s the only one of the six I’d seen before our tour. We all wore yellow to match the murals, coalescing into what we called the #yelloton (a “peloton” is a group of cyclists). For three of the cyclists, this was their longest ride ever!
It was so fun to come upon each mural! One way to make a long ride seem shorter is to break it up and treat it like a treasure hunt. Instead of “55 miles to go,” it was “8 miles to the next mural!” It really gave our ride a sense of purpose and adventure.
Each mural is a reflection of the surrounding neighborhood. Taken together, you get a real appreciation for the diversity of Houston. People of all races, cultures, and ages are celebrated in these murals. The #YestotheCensus signature yellow tied each mural together.
The murals are also interactive! Poses came effortlessly for our group. We just joined in with the people in the murals! A different local artist did each mural, and they all did a fantastic job. Their names and instagrams are linked at the end of this article.
Mural locations and artists:
|Montrose||Light Bulbs Unlimited||Mr. D||1203 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006|
|Gulfton||HPD Storefront||Anat Ronen||6227 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77074|
|Alief||Alief Family YMCA||Lee Washington||7850 Howell Sugar Land Rd, Houston, TX 77083|
|South Central Houston||Shape Community Center||Israel McCloud||3815 Live Oak St, Houston, TX 77004|
|2nd Ward||Lenox Barbecue||Carlos “Empire” Alcaraz||5420 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77011|
|Aldine||High Meadows Library||Colors Oner 713||4500 Aldine Mail Route Rd, Houston, TX 77039|