Calls for Leighton Buzzard southern bypass to be made safer after death of man in his 20s

A petition has already attracted over 2,900 signatures

By Joanna Gravett
Monday, 21st March 2022, 5:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 2:54 pm

Residents say ‘enough is enough’ as councillors and community members call for Leighton Buzzard southern bypass to be made safer following the death of a man in his 20s.

At approximately 5pm on Tuesday, March 8, three vehicles collided between the roundabout at Billington Road and the roundabout with Grovebury Road on the A4146, with an announcement on March 9 that the male had lost his life.

A petition entitled ‘Make Leighton Buzzard Bypass Safer’ has now been launched online attracting a whopping 2,914 signatures in a matter of days, while Leighton Buzzard councillors are campaigning for change.

Leighton Buzzard Southern Bypass. Photo: Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Central Bedfordshire and Leighton-Linslade Town Councillors Amanda Dodwell, Ray Berry, and David Bowater said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen a number of accidents on the Leighton Buzzard southern bypass – including, sadly, one fatality.

“When the road was built, it was wider than a normal single carriageway road, but was not a dual carriageway.

“This has created an unofficial ‘third lane’ in the middle, used by traffic travelling in both directions for over taking.

“Unfortunately, we see some drivers overtaking long streams of traffic at high speed, almost driving into the oncoming traffic.

“Action must be taken to improve safety.”

The councillors believe that in the long term the “best option” would be to convert the road into a full dual carriageway with a central reservation.

However, in the short term, they noted that actions could include: properly marking out three lanes with alternating priorities for overtaking – as on the A303 Illminster bypass in Somerset (part of the bypass to the east of the Wing Road roundabout is already marked out in this way); and introducing a 50mph speed limit enforced by cameras.

The councillors concluded: “We will work with to make all stakeholders to make safety improvements a priority.

“We have already opened a dialogue with officers of both Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and CBC Highways - the aim being to find a workable solution to improve road safety around Leighton Buzzard and Linslade.

“Aside from this, the fire service are already having discussions with Highways England regarding the A5 up to Milton Keynes in the light of recent accidents.”

Meanwhile, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service posted a safety video on Facebook last week, which concerned the Leighhton Buzzard bypass.

The March 17 post stated: “Last week, one fire engine from Leighton Buzzard and two fire engines from Dunstable attended a serious road traffic collision on the A4146/ A505 (Leighton Buzzard Bypass) where sadly, a man in his 20s died.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see speeding motorists performing dangerous manoeuvres along this stretch of road. We will be working alongside Bedfordshire Police to make this road safer.”

Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Pat Hamill, of Tithe Farm ward, said: “I use this road most days and at different times and speed is one of the major factors that I believe can cause a number of the accidents that occur. Not all. When a mobile speed camera turns up there are those that warn other drivers to slow down, why?

“They deserve to be caught so others can live. If the speed limit is adhered to, any driver can see what is happening ahead earlier.

“The overtaking is unnecessary on most occasions, especially with other vehicles coming in the other direction doing the same.

“I have asked the Leader of CBC council to look into average speed cameras. They work mostly on Airport Way since they were introduced.”

Cllr Hamill added that he also thought average speed cameras would be the answer on the M1/A5 link road.

He said: “I have just had confirmation from Highways England that the road markings on that stretch of road leading to roundabouts will be changed to make it safer.

“I really hope something is done sooner. All these safety measures are needed now.”

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman said: “We take road safety in Central Bedfordshire extremely seriously and we are very sorry indeed to hear of this incident.

“We are aware of the petition and would be happy to review and consider the petition once it has been submitted and will look to discuss this at our next available Traffic Management Meeting.

“We have meetings with the police and fire services arranged and we will work together to undertake a strategic review of the area to determine the available options to improve road safety.”

> What do you think should happen next? Have you witnessed dangerous incidents? Email [email protected]