Yellow bicycle box opens nostalgia in Houston
Sitting in the parking lot next to the vegan bakery, Crumbville, on Elgin St., there is a large street-light-yellow box with “3rd Ward Tours” written on the outside. “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye is playing. Every weekend, the company LetsDoThisHouston engages with the community through one of the first activities you learn in childhood.
LetsDoThisHouston gives tours of the city with rides on bikes with light-up wheels. In May 2015, Prairie View A&M alumnus Alan Moore created his business to encourage the community to both try different activities they wouldn’t typically do on Friday night and find a fun way to get active.
The inception for this idea came organically. Moore decided to use a bike from Houston’s BCycle, which has stations spread out through the city. One of the closest BCycle stations to campus is at Emancipation Park.
“I hopped on a bike, rode around the city, stopped and got something to eat and called my first event Bike and Brunch,” Moore said.
In the yellow box, Moore stores dozens of bikes for his events. They were acquired from a nonprofit called Tour De Hood, also located in the Third Ward, which informs people on living a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.
“I was able to use my resources, add themes to (the events) and I was able to put them on social media, and people came out to the events,” Moore said.
At PVAMU, Moore earned his degree in social work. One of his goals is for his biking events to actually affect the community. “An upcoming event is the Voter Registration Ride, where we’re encouraging the community to register to vote and have an impact on their surroundings,” Moore said.
Along with his partner Blake Simon, Moore stresses the safety precautions of riding in the street.
Simon and Moore met in college at PVAMU. “Everybody that was in his particular building I became close friends with, so ever since 2007 we’ve been close friends,” Simon said.
Simon patrols the back of the group to pick up anyone who can’t finish the ride or severely crashes. “The objective is to make sure that people don’t get left behind,” Simon said. During the ride, Moore and Simon both stressed two important rules: staying to the right and moving through lights.
Luckily, on this ride, no one fell off their bike. Falls from customers have been minor thus far. The worst fall in the past was from Simon himself.
“Whenever we did a college ride at Prairie View, I didn’t see a bench, ran into it and somersaulted into the air,” Simon said. “A couple of students thought I was dead, but I was alive.”
There are different biking events, clubs and organizations that are happening in Houston, but one thing that separates LetsDoThisHouston from the rest is its music. Most of their events are music-themed, with Bruno Mars, Drake and reggae being used in the past.
Even though this kind of ride is geared toward beginner and new riders, there are cyclists that keep coming back.
Phyllis Kinsey has been riding with LetsDoThisHouston since October and found out about it through a Facebook post through all the digital clutter.
People participate in these night rides for different reasons, but the reoccurring ones are for being active and unique. “I don’t want to do the same thing, going to a club on a Friday night, having a drink,” Kinsey said. “It’s something different and fun to do with a group of friends.”
One thing that is consistent between not only Moore and Simon but also the other riders is the sense of community. “As a business owner myself, I know how critical it is to lend that support,” Simon said.
While riding in a group of 15 people, and taking rides through Discovery Green Midtown and other city sites, everyone is supporting each other and socializing. Sometimes having 100 people come out over the course of the weekend just further pushes their goal of community engagement.
LetsDoThisHouston sell tickets to their rides through Facebook, which links their events through the ticket seller Eventbrite.
“People come to ride and say, ‘oh my God, I thought I was going to die, that car was honking at me and I was just scared out there,'” Moore said. “People’s reactions of being able to achieve something they thought they couldn’t and encouraging people is something that I like and enjoy.”