City of Houston

Tour de Houston bike ride still on for 2024 despite cancellation announcement, Mayor Whitmire says

This year’s event is tentatively scheduled for April 7 and will include 20-, 40- and 60-mile rides like it has in previous years.

Tour de Houston 2014
Richard J. Carson, Donna Carson
Cyclists participate in the Tour de Houston in 2014.

For a few hours Wednesday, Houston's cycling community was shell-shocked.

An afternoon email sent by the Mayor's Office of Special Events, to previous participants in the Tour de Houston bicycle ride, said the 2024 event was being scrapped "due to a lack of funding." The annual fundraising ride around the city had lost its longtime sponsor, Houston-based energy company Apache Corporation, after the 2023 event.

But on Wednesday night, about six hours after the email went out, new Mayor John Whitmire released a statement saying he had been unaware of the cancellation announcement and would find a way to raise money and keep the ride going as planned, adding that he supports quality-of-life activities such as Tour de Houston.

Then on Thursday night, Whitmire announced that Apache had agreed to resume its sponsorship this year.

"When we heard the tour was not going to happen this year, some people thought this might be a signal into the administration's priorities," said Joe Cutrufo, the executive director of BikeHouston, a local cycling advocacy organization. "So it was a bit of a relief to see that the mayor is committed to making this ride happen."

The Tour de Houston is tentatively scheduled to be held Sunday, April 7, according to the mayor's office, which said the date could change based on the sponsor’s preferences. It will include 20-, 40- and 60-mile rides as it has in previous years, the mayor’s office said.

The event began in 2005 and has been held in most years since, with the 2011 ride being called off because of a lack of funding and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events.

Tour de Houston benefits Re-Plant Houston, a forestation program of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and has included about 3,000 participating riders each of the last two years, according to the mayor's office, which said the ride costs approximately $180,000 to put on.

The cost for participants is $45 before the day of the ride and $50 on the day of the event. The route typically starts and ends downtown, with last year's short course taking riders southeast to the Houston Botanic Garden and back, the 40-mile ride going to Ellington Airport and the longer ride extending to Clear Lake Park.

Whitmire described the Tour de Houston a “great program that brings Houstonians together and allows cyclists to ride through some of Houston’s unique, historic, and diverse neighborhoods.”

"This is the type of quality-of-life activity Houstonians enjoy and my administration will support it fully," Whitmire also said.

Cutrufo said he's also hopeful that Whitmire, a longtime state senator who was elected as mayor in December, will continue and expand on the bike-friendly policies of his predecessor at City Hall. During the eight years of Sylvester Turner's administration, the city council adopted the Houston Bike Plan to expand its cycling infrastructure and make a historically car-centric city easier and safer to navigate for bike riders, pedestrians and public transit users.

Hundreds of miles of bike lanes have been added around the city since 2017, when the bike plan was adopted.

"Quality of life isn't just about a one-day ride," Cutrufo said. "It's having the option to get a workout on your way to work, to forgo waiting in the school pick-up line, to choose the best mode of transportation based on the best way to get around on that day.

"This is a new administration," he added, "and we want to make sure they understand that our mission isn't just for there to be big events for people to ride in a recreational fashion, but for people to ride every day."