Sunday 21 March 2010

Chris Hutt: died, march 2010

Down at Zetland Road Last Month, we were comparing illnesses. Jon Rogers, has to nip down to the BRI with chest pains, one of our B.T reporters awakes to discover a paramedic in the room on account of an "incident" in their sleep, and Chris Hutt was considering an electric bicycle because of his newly developed Angina.
Sadly, it turns out that Chris's problem wasn't going to cause that much inconvenience. Jon Rogers sent an email out this morning breaking the news that Chris was found dead:
Terrible news

Chris Hutt was found dead yesterday.

Friday 26th February was the last time I saw him, when we were all together at Zetland Road.

John Grimshaw sent me this,

"Cycling has lost a doughty champion. He was also the best plumber in the west!

"I have lost a colleague of so many years, the best of route devisers and cycling companion, and a friend indeed.

"I know he was seen as a thorn in your side, but without his support I doubt that key cycle routes we now take for granted would have been built so well, or even at all.

"His last two messages concerned the ongoing threat to the railway path and the beautiful River Avon route to Hanham. Might you consider as a fitting tribute to this so dedicated Bristol Citizen, declaring the railway path inviolate and rebuilding the riverside path to a standard he would have enjoyed?"

As John says, there is already so much around Bristol that is the better for Chris's work and energy, and those two suggestions would add to his legacy. As far as I am concerned, the railway path is already inviolate, and the riverside path would be brilliant.

My last email to him said, "Aware that not heard from you for a week or so. Trust you are well and taking a well earned break!"

We will miss him.

Here are some of our photos from the Zetland Road visit; Chris is pointedly refusing to wear hi-viz or a helmet; his bike is the pink tourer chained to the railings.
Chris was not only prepared to argue the technical details of bike/pedestrian paths and crossings, he understood that a junction or stretch of bike lane is meaningless on his own -and that for Bristol to be a city you could live in without needing to drive, everything needed to join up, so you could walk or pedal around the city.
He helped found the Bristol Traffic site, as discussed in an email in May 2008:
I carry around a cheapo digital camera and use it to similar effect, although sometimes you've got to be quick. I've posted a few on my blog , but it would be good to have a site where we could all post such pics, something like "Bad driving in Bristol". It would be a public record which could be referred to the police and authorities
Obviously Chris missed the point, our site exists to praise our fellow drivers rather than criticise them, but we happily accepted his photos, and even have a couple in the pipeline. Chris did eventually come to see things our way, and so embrace our anti-cycling award process which he was unable to give to Jon Rogers:
While most known in recent years for his Green Bristol Blog and regular appearances on the Evening Post, where his role as Agent Provocateur to the E.P.'s usual stance was there to upset the readers, his key contribution to the city was -and will continue to be- the Bristol-Bath Railway Path. With John Grimshaw and others in the Cyclebag group, they built the Railway Path while nobody was looking. It was the West of England Partnership's plans to run BRT down this route that brought him back into the cycling activists world again, and ensured that the current generation of traffic planners came to fear his name. The R.P. not only gave East Bristol a better pedestrian/cyclist route than any other part of the city, it showed the country what a city could become.
He also organised some other rides, last year his Discover Bristol route took in the M32 underpasses, the Frome Valley and led to a lovely showdown between John Grimshaw and Chris regarding routing options.
We shall miss Chris, but we shall also remember him. Everyone who walks or cycles the Railway Path is benefiting from the work he and others put in to building that path, and it exists as a wonderful memorial to everyone who wanted to change our city, to make it a better place.
The Bristol Traffic Team.


Quercus said...

Very, very sad news.

Although I never met him, I will miss his on-line banter, blog, comments, and his enthusiasm for improving Bristol's cycle and pedestrian facilities.

A sad day.

Adam said...

Very sad news indeed.

He was a great help to me and Elliot finding child friendly cycle routes around town over the last couple of years. His help and advice greatly improved our quality of life and experience of living and getting about in Bristol.

It was always encouraging to know that someone like Chris was around to stir things up and try and constantly push things forwards against the odds.

He'll be missed for sure.

Michael said...

I haven't seen Chris in years, but his rekindled enthusiasm for cycle campaigning in the past few years was a great source of joy for me. Not afraid to tell it like it is and actively avoid the easy way out, Chris never lost his enthusiasm for the original dreams of Cyclebag.

When I first met him he was still nominally running Cyclebag, despite it having a completely moribund membership. He seemed to regard the newly formed Bristol Cycling Campaign as an upstart, but eventually joined in some campaigns.

It was the route surveying and planning where he seemed to find the most satisfaction, and it is such a shame that the National Cycle Network was never built to Chris's exacting standards...


Cllr Mark Wright said...

A real shock, and it seems all the more surprising because he must have been quite healthy with all the cycling he did...

Bristol will really miss the superb constructive criticism that he supplied to the Council. He was in many ways a "loyal opposition" on transport matters, who genuinely wanted to improve rather than score points or just damage reputation.

SouthvilleSunshine said...

Oh no, a real loss for Bristol and an awful shock.

We must organise a bike ride in his honour, if it is a 'Chris' ride it would have to be a very steep uphill climb followed by miles of freewheeling down the other side! If not maybe just a jaunt along the Bristol to Bath cycle path.

I knew Chris for may years, infact I lived in his flat whilst he took a year off travelling. I shall miss bumping into him around the Harbourside and hearing about the latest gripe.

Very, very sad news.

Harvey Bikebell said...

i hadn't seen him for years since Cyclebag days and was looking forward to bumping into him now that I am again active in promoting cycling, a memorial ride would be fitting.

Kevin Dennis

Roger H said...

A real shock, and a sad loss.

Could you fix the title of the post though? I'm sure i've seen Chris in 2009. With the incorrect year at the top it took me a while to realise this wasn't another tongue-in-cheek joke.

Roger H said...

I meant "seen Chris since 2009" not "in 2009"...

mnpinkfloyd said...

I never met Chris but was looking forward to at some point this year as I've now become more active in cycling campaigning. This is very sad news.

Bristol cycling has lost a true champion. I'll miss his witty blogging and enthusiasm for cycling. He was a real inspiration and a memorial ride or some part of the Railway Path dedicated to him would be a fitting tribute.

SteveL said...

-fixed the title but the the URL will stay wrong. Bugger. Still not fully in 2010.

burtthebike said...

I knew Chris for thirty years, and OK, he wasn't always the most politicly aware of cycling champions, but he was always there, always fighting.

Never forget, without people like Chris, we wouldn't be where we are today, and let's keep campaigning, because we know where we want to be tomorrow. And so did Chris.

greenlung said...

Sad news. He'll be greatly missed.

Unknown said...

It's a poorer world without Chris in it.

It was always a pleasure to meet up with his steadfast and sensitive soul.

We'll miss him.

Di and Martin

PeteJ said...

RIP, Chris; we didn't always see eye-to-eye about economics or the utility of rail transport, but I'll miss our occasional disagreements as I'll miss your insight, humour and campaigning zeal.

The world is much poorer for this loss.

DaveInBristol said...

Without doubt the most intelligent, clear-sighted, original and articulate cycle-campaigner in Bristol. His tireless dedication and constant surveillance of the local & national transport scene have been invaluable. Our voice will be weaker without him.

green tomato said...

what I really admired about chris was his readiness to say what he felt needed saying, unswayed by fear of criticism. Also, his spiky nature in public and blog banter belied a warm and agreeabler nature when talking one to one.
This is a big loss to Bristol.Shall we create a bike hearse to give him an appropriate send off, if his family agree?
Steve Meek

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear this news.

Chris was an inspiration. His reasoned arguments and sense of social justice will be sorely missed.

A great loss, for the cycling community and for the city as a whole.

Was a pleasure meeting you Chris.


Anonymous said...

It's very moving to read all these comments - great to know Chris was so valued, respected and radical to the death.
I am one of Chris' 2 offspring. My brother and I would like to organise a fitting funeral - bike based of course.
Any tips/pointers or help appreciated. my email is

Joby said...

Sad news indeed.

He engaged in some heated dialogue on one of my blogs and have read his blog ever since.

Although not from Bristol, I must say you are lucky to have had this chap in your corner fighting for you.

aaa said...

Tragic news.
Hope others will be inspired to finish what he started.

Bristol Dave said...

Chris and I may not have seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues, but nevertheless I enjoyed the debates we had on his blog and respected both the passion he had for his cause and also his achievements.

RIP Chris.

Downfader said...

Condolences to his friends and family. Didnt know him personally but had read his comments on various forums and he came across as really dedicated to the cause.

David Hembrow said...

I never met Chris, but I always enjoyed reading his point of view, both in his blog posts and in his responses on mine.

I'm sorry to hear of his passing. He will not doubt be missed by many.

Anonymous said...

@green tomato yes!

Anonymous said...

Chris was a good friend and I'm so sad to be far away in California at this tough moment for Bristol bicycle culture. I posted some thoughts and memories of Chris on my blog:

Warm wishes to everyone else who misses Chris right now. Josh

Criminal Chalkist said...

No way? can not believe it.

Never forgotten, greatly missed.

Didnt know him very well, but I am shocked.

Cycling still lives on his memory.

Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

Much love and deep regret.


Sarah said...

I'd be very pleased to join a memorial cycle ride for Chris. It's more than a week since he died and I've only just found out. Nice to find, via a twitter search, how widespread the appreciation of his work has been.