Plea for footpath on busy Leighton Buzzard road before "someone gets injured or worse"

Leighton Road. Picture: Google MapsLeighton Road. Picture: Google Maps
Leighton Road. Picture: Google Maps
Petition submitted to Central Beds Council calling for a safe route between Leighton Buzzard and Stanbridge

A petition signed by more than 200 people is calling for a footpath along a busy stretch of road in Leighton Buzzard before “someone gets injured or worse”, a meeting heard.

The 207-signature e-petition seeks a segregated walking and cycling route between the town and nearby Stanbridge, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive.

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Local resident Tom Littlehales told the committee: “We petition CBC to implement the safe, traffic free, inclusive cycle route between Leighton Buzzard and Stanbridge, passing Leighton Buzzard Rugby Club.

“It needs to be safe enough for children to ride along and sufficiently wide for disability adapted cycles and cargo tricycles,” he explained.

“The Sewell Greenway was opened to the public around 2002, providing a traffic free walking and cycling route from the edge of Dunstable towards Leighton Buzzard.

“The unfortunate reality about this green link is that it stops after the Leighton Buzzard bypass on the outskirts of Stanbridge, which leaves the daunting option of walking or cycling along the fast-moving Leighton Road or a detour via Eggington and the A4012.

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“Neither of these busy, partially unlit roads have a footpath or a safe option for those who choose to cycle. I’d draw particular attention to the gap in footpath provision between the DVSA test centre and the newer warehouses on Leighton Road.

“When the warehouses were being built a few years ago, I assumed there would be a footpath at least as far as those premises. On their completion, I was astonished to see no such footpath had been added.

“This is now a particularly dangerous section of Leighton Road for walkers and cyclists. I regularly see people walking towards traffic along the 40mph road on the carriageway.

“There’s already a desire line on the narrow roadside verge. The demand is clearly there, so why has nothing been built?” he asked.

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“This section has remained in this sorry state for almost four years now. The petition has support from the local rugby club, which would benefit greatly from the active travel link.

“Please can the council build a safe and convenient cycling and walking link between Leighton Buzzard and Stanbridge as soon as possible to promote active travel and to prevent people walking in the road, before someone gets injured or worse?”

CBC’s executive member for sustainability and climate and Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye replied: “Our local cycling and walking infrastructure plans (LCWIP) are on this agenda.

“That route between Leighton Buzzard and Stanbridge is contained within the document. That will become the blueprint for infrastructure going forward.

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“The route has several landowners, so a conversation would be needed with them when the money becomes available. It’s not quite as simple as the council building it.

“Hopefully the LCWIP would open up opportunities to get more funding. Active Travel England will look more favourably on the council, having adopted the plans.

“It’s on the horizon. We can’t say when, with those negotiations to be held. But hopefully we’re a step closer towards it.”

The committee later agreed CBC’s cycling and walking infrastructure plans.