Sustainable UCL


Meet our next Bike Buddy: Diana Hawk

3 September 2020

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

Photo of Diana Hawk

What do you do at UCL?

I work in the Students’ Union coordinating leadership opportunities for students. I manage our democratic structures which enable students to make changes both at UCL and in the wider community.

What made you want to be a bike buddy?

I know how helpful it can be! My husband has been an avid cyclist for years and when I finally decided I’d start cycling to work he helped show me a route and it really helped me become confident, so I would love to return the favour!

What’s your route?

I cycle from Forest Hill/Sydenham taking advantage of lots of quiet roads—I go through Dulwich and Peckham through Burgess Park, over Blackfriars Bridge and into Bloomsbury.

What’s your favourite thing about cycling?/ How did you get into cycling?

I finally got into cycling just over a year ago after several instances of being stuck on a train and my husband consistently arriving on time before me due to his cycling commute. I also knew I wanted the exercise and as a working parent, I love that I save time and energy by combining my workout with my commute. It is so liberating to not be reliant on trains. I know how long it will take me to get somewhere consistently and get exercise too!

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

For years my husband tried to get me to cycle and I’d always have an excuse. Here were my concerns and how I finally addressed them:

1. I don’t feel safe! I’ve grown up outside of the UK and London roads scare me. I don’t have a driving license and I was terrified of navigating roads. Answer: I took free cycle safety lessons from my local council. They were 121 and really comprehensive. I selected the beginner level in Lewisham and signed up for advanced cycle training in Camden. Check the borough where you work and live as you are eligible for free training in both! I also take full advantage of quiet routes, cycle lanes and I wear reflective clothing to help me feel even safer!

2. As an asthmatic I’m worried about the pollution exposure. Answer:  I wear an urban Respro mask and change the filters regularly. I haven’t had any issues with the pollution and asthma. Plus, quieter routes also help!

3. It rains so much. Why would I cycle when I’m going to be soaked through. Answer: There were only a handful of days I didn’t cycle into work last year due to weather. I purchased a waterproof jacket and bag (top tip: always put your dry clothes in a carrier bag inside your other bag!), and shoe covers. To be honest, sometimes it feels quite nice cycling in the rain. Plus my bike is foldable so I know that if it is horrendous weather I can get in a taxi, bus or train.

4. I live in hilly SE London and I feel terribly unfit. Answer: I purchased an electric bike! Some people think this is cheating but I can guarantee that cycling on an electric bike is still quality exercise. I use my motor assist to get up hills and I can manage how much assist I give myself if I do fancy more of a challenge.  

5. Bikes are expensive. I can’t afford it. Answer: At this point I knew I wanted an electric folding bike (not cheap!) and the Cycle to Work scheme helped me afford this! I calculated the savings I was making by no longer using my Oyster/Travel card and it is definitely a great investment!


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.