Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Spring is here. The daffodils are blooming, the evenings are light again, and the cyclists are coming out of hibernation. Scientists have noticed a considerable increase over the past week, probably encouraged by the dry warm weather.

The 'feral cyclist' (urbanus ciclisto) is a now an increasingly common sight on city streets, with its colourful yellow plumage, and it is increasingly over-wintering. This species is adapted to the urban environment. It is surpisingly swift and agile and shows little fear, often coming within inches of motor vehicles and humans, and it is unafraid to grab whatever roadspace it can. So prevalent has the creature become that some are calling for its control or even eradication, fearful that it may pose a threat to the larger inhabitants of the city. Others point out that although it is difficult to tame, it causes very little actual damage compared to larger road-mammals such as the vanus blanco and taxis niger, and unlike them does not cause erosion or over-grazing.

The 'lesser cyclist' (redactum ciclisto) is a much rarer species. Threatened by habitat loss and predators, and much less bold than its urban counterpart, the 'lesser cyclist' is much more retiring and shows considerable fear. Observers note that the species will make occasional forays out into the open particularly in warmer weather, but generally it takes up residence in sheds and garages and is rarely seen. Raids on its nesting places also pose a threat the the survival of the species. Because of its duller plumage and tendancy to hide in gutters, it is also vulnerable to being hit by motor vehicles. Unfortunately, conservation efforts have generally concentrated on the more colourful urban cyclist, so numbers of the lesser cyclist have been declining year-on-year. Some efforts have attempted to make the species adapt to urban conditions, by creating narrow reservations at roadsides, but generally these have proved unattractive and tend to be quickly taken over by the creature's larger predators. However, some predict that over-population, increasingly scarce food supplies and climate change may threaten the lesser cyclists' predators, so it is possible that numbers may  recover in coming years.


  1. This made me smile.

    Now I've got to ruin it by a geeky remark. I think you've got your Linnaean names the wrong way round, accidentally putting your cyclists in different genus's -

    Surely you meant them to be "ciclisto urbanus" and the closely related "c. redactum"?

  2. A great piece and done without the easy and obvious reference to tits which are definitely the larger road mammals in my opinion.

    Here is to the decline of the predators.

  3. @underyourownsteam - you're not Boris Johnson are you? :)