Sunday, 15 September 2013

Going rats

Traffic Jam (old-fashioned style)
Cycling hasn't much increased in the UK since 2011, surveys suggests. Conservationists say that habitat loss, predation by heavy car users, and changeable weather are to blame. The research was carried out by DfT who say they are working to create more cycle-friendly ways. Earlier reports had suggested that cyclists were making a comeback. Conservationists say more needs to be done to save this species.

DfT said: "This creature is part of our transport systems. People love cycling along a canal and hearing the bells of bike users. They are part of the modal chain... part of the ecosystem. It would be a real shame to let that go."


Cyclists, immortalised by Bradley, Chris and Chris, were once a common sight in the UK's roads. But since the 1960s, numbers are thought to have declined rapidly and drastically. Mr Driver said: "There is no doubt this was a combination of two factors. First of all the loss of habitat and the breaking up of habitat, and then the escape of the car into the countryside."

Car use was brought to the UK for its convenience, but after some were overused, or were released without proper controls, they established and spread, preying on cyclists. It has been a problem that has also been seen in other parts of the world, particularly English-speaking countries. Surveys across the UK have now shown another steep fall.

"Initially, we started to see an increase in numbers because of projects which were controlling car use and improving the habitat," said Mr Driver. "But now we have seen a drop." A contributing factor was last year's weather. Falling levels of space, exposed, silly and unprotected cycle lanes, leaving cyclists vulnerable to predators.

Last chance salon

Experts say that these creature can be brought back from the brink. Cyclists are doing well in some areas. Schemes to conserve the habitat and to rid roads of cars have provided safe havens for the creatures. They are still thriving in strongholds in Cambridge and Oxfords. And some London burrows (haha), too, numbers have been on the rise.

Pedella Pink-Dutch, cycle conservationist, said: "Here you've got networks of roads, good supply, lots of cycle space, which is good for safety and provision.

"Where you have large areas of habitat that are quite complex areas, they are doing rather well because the main predator, the car, cannot get into the networks to hunt them all out."

She said they were working to create new habitats for cyclists. DfT is also aiming to create many hectares of cycle space on roads in a bid to boost cycling numbers.

Yes, here's the real article about voles and minks - haha, the Vole O'Speed will approve I'd think.

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