Sustainable UCL


Meet our second Bike Buddy: Jordan Rowe, Centre Manager of UCL’s Urban Laboratory

27 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.

Photo of Jordan Rowe with his bike

What do you do at UCL?

I’ve been at UCL since my undergraduate degree in 2011 (BA History, SSEES), and subsequently did my masters here too (MSc Urban Studies, Geography). But I also work as Centre Manager of UCL’s Urban Laboratory, a really unique research and public engagement centre supported by The Bartlett, Social & Historical Sciences, Engineering and the Arts & Humanities faculties. In that role I ensure our day-to-day running and delivery of our programme and activities. I also work on an ERC-funded project on urban governance and development challenges in three African cities, hosted within the Geography department.

What made you want to be a Bike Buddy?

As you might guess from the above, I have a keen interest in issues relating to the city and making sure it’s more sustainable – on an environmental and social level, but also in building up more resilient local economies. To get to that point, we require a culture change in what we see our roads and neighbourhoods as being for. Getting more people on bikes - where possible - is an essential part of this. However, I understand the reservations and safety fears people have, so want to offer any help I can.

What’s your route?

I’ve lived around Holloway and Tufnell Park for the past five years and know a couple of quiet routes into Bloomsbury. My usual journey takes me down back streets in Kentish Town before linking up with Cycleway 6 as it runs down Royal College Street and passes St Pancras station.

Whilst I feel relatively comfortable cycling on busier, more direct roads, I definitely have a preference for using the cycle infrastructure we have. It’s not only that they are more pleasant, but by making use of them, we send the message that we want and need more of the same.

How did you get into cycling?

I’m very fortunate that my mum encouraged me to cycle from a young age. These would mostly be leisure trips (to the park, on holiday etc.). But in my first year at UCL I took up cycling from my halls of residence on Camden Road, using part of the same route I take today. If it wasn’t for the segregated lane – very rare even a decade ago – taking me almost completely between Ifor Evans and Gordon Square, I’m not sure I would have taken it up. Thankfully I did, and now I can’t imagine being without my bike.

What’s your favourite thing about cycling?

Cycling is a great way to explore the city. I love an adventure, and the flexibility you have on bike surpasses anything. During lockdown it was the only tool I had to escape my immediate surroundings, and I have no doubt it contributed to keeping my mental health in check, as well as keeping me physically active.

Are there any cycling myths you'd like to bust?

London has a long way to go with cycle infrastructure, but thankfully a Cycle Grid is emerging, with a network of routes taking you to most places within zone 2. Over the lockdown months I’ve taken a few longer rides across the city and been surprised by the extent of signposted, quiet routes, even in the deepest suburbs. We’re far from being Copenhagen or Rotterdam, but we’re heading in the right direction. I hope a wider cross-section of the UCL community, and indeed people from different backgrounds across London, obtain the confidence they need to pick up a bike and start travelling in an active and fun way.


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. 


Photo courtesy of James Curwen.