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 newsHere 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 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.
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.