Sustainable UCL


Meet our first Bike Buddy: Hannah Biggs, Sustainability Projects Lead

20 July 2020

Our new Bike Buddy scheme aims to help staff cycle to UCL. We team experienced cyclists with staff who are new to cycling or would like some additional support in getting to and from UCL. Bike Buddies can assist with knowledge on local routes, and can take people into campus.

Photograph of Hannah

What do you do at UCL?

I work in the Sustainability Team at UCL. My job focusses on developing the Sustainability Behaviour Change Programmes as well as leading on our Communications and Engagement. More recently I’ve been supporting UCL in embedding sustainability into the curriculum and enhancing biodiversity on campus. Our new Bike Buddy scheme is one of our latest campaigns!

What made you want to be a Bike Buddy?

I’ve been a keen cyclist for many years, I first got my stabilisers off when I was 3 years old! Because of this, I’m a confident cyclist and I’m keen to share the rules of the road with other new cyclists who haven’t had the chance to grow up on London roads.

I first started commuting to UCL over 4 years ago. First of all, I got free bike training from Lewisham Council – most boroughs offer this. Anyone can take this up at any ability so whilst I wasn’t a new cyclist I learnt some really important things like how to position yourself in the road, as well as my rights and how to cycle confidently. It then took me an entire year to work out the best route to get to UCL. I weaved around various busy roads when in fact there was a single bike lane (the Q1), which takes me from my house in Deptford to UCL – door to door! I want to share my knowledge so it doesn’t take other people a year to find their perfect route.

I’ve also had lots of mishaps like forgetting socks, turning up with a bonnet for hair, and all sorts - I’m keen to share my top tips from female friendly clothes, to how to pack, or store multiple shoes in your locker.

What’s your route?

I cycle along the Q1 from Deptford to Blackfriars Bridge, this turns into the super cycle highway 7 which takes you all the way to UCL. It’s a really good route, only quiet roads or segregated completely from the traffic, and there are even lights to help cyclists move off before the cars.

What’s your favourite thing about cycling?

For me I just like getting out and about in the fresh air. So much of my time now WFH is sat on the computer. Cycling allows me to escape beyond my usual bubble without having to go on public transport which I haven’t been on since March. Since lockdown I’ve been on lots of cycle routes along waterways and nature parks to escape the city, without escaping the city.

Do you have any top tips for cycling?

  1. Get cycle training from your local council when it’s up and running again (it’s temporarily closed due to lockdown measures). Whatever your ability it’s really worth it. They pick you up from your house and you go on routes you would like to cycle on. It’s completely free!
  2. If you don’t want to commit to buying a bike, rent one from your local council, it’s free for a month and will allow you to see if you like cycling. You can then buy it really cheaply off of the Council or buy another bike.
  3. Start practising in your local area on quiet roads, in parks and along waterways – before building your confidence for longer routes to London.
  4. Don’t worry about not looking the part, cycling can often seem like a male dominated sport with lots of Lycra, but there are so many different cyclists on the streets now – and you can pretty much wear what you want unless you’re racing to work.

If you would like to find out about UCL’s Bike Buddy scheme, support someone in cycling to UCL or if you are new to cycling and would like a buddy, see our page here.

For general tips on walking and cycling, see this page.