Make the A505 Safer: Crow archives full of familar frustrations
PUBLISHED: 08:25 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 24 August 2018
Following our look back at some of the worst crashes in four decades on the stretch between Royston and Baldock last week, we’ve now gathered some of the views of readers and past reporters whose frustrations sound rather familiar.
In a special report from 1984, John Price said: “Behind the death toll lies the pain and suffering caused to motorists who’ve survived accidents, nearly 50 in three years.
“Ask any motorist who uses the A505 frequently what should be done to improve safety and everytime you’ll get a different suggestion.
“Blocking all the gaps in the central reservation and making motorists take a ‘long loop’ round a series of new roundabouts between Royston and Baldock was one idea. Treat the road as a motorway and build underpasses, bridges and sliproads was another.
“These are too fanciful and certainly too expensive.”
In the story, he spoke to then county councillor Harold Greenfield who said the plan was to improve sight lines along the road by removing vegetation along the sides of the road and central reservations.
Of course the crashes and near misses continued, and visibility is still a problem today.
Reporter Elaine Cooper penned a story with the headline ‘A recipe for disaster’ in 1987.
She said: “In just three years up until June 1985, the seven-mile stretch between Baldock and Royston has seen a staggering 30 accidents” and that the “calls for better safety measures have never been louder.”
Former Slip End garage manager Anne Bacon called on HCC for better sign posting after they saw a car going the wrong way near Slip End in July 1988. She amassed 300 signatures, but her efforts were halted by a break-in at her garage not long after they started collecting signatures.
Anne’s efforts are not unlike those of campaigner Lynsey Langdon, who started a Facebook page when her husband Greig broke his back in 2016. There’s a similar sense of immediate action taken – albeit it on slightly more modern medium.
In 1998, a letter from CJK Fordham said: “Some enormous amount of money has been spent on erecting crash barriers along this length of road, making it look like a motorway rather than a country road.
“This money would have been far better utilised making the Ashwell turning safe. This is what we, the locals, have been saying for years. Sooner or later the county council will be sued for negligence for ignoring the dangers on the A505.”
In 1995, the owner of Slip End Farm said a possible £50,000 the county council wanted to spend on the road was “not enough”, and that the danger stemmed from vehicles travelling towards Royston, sometimes at speeds of more than 90mph, while drivers only had 60 yards’ visibility to his farm entrance.
He said that in the short term he would like to see 50mph limit and extra policing.
In January 2009, there were calls for action from a resident in Sandon, who said: “I don’t know how many more accidents are going to have to happen before anything is done about this road.
“The one last Wednesday could have easily been a fatality. They have put speed cameras in all along the road, but so many of the junctions are dangerous to get out of. The only way to slow people down is to put a 50mph speed limit in.”
In a letter to the Crow in 2016, Richard Webster said people treat the A505 like it’s a motorway and “the best solution to the problem is to straighten it out, flatten it out, and put roundabouts over/under or underpasses under it to allow joining cars to stream into traffic travelling in the same direction.”
He added that: “Unfortunately, that would be prohibitively expensive”. As there’s a finite amount of money and time, he said the best solution would be “better signage and white markings”,
Following the road coming top of the accident blackspots in a poll by the Crow in 1988, an Odsey resident hit out at Herts County Council’s Highways department over the ”killer A505” – he wrote to them about the dangers and the Odsey turn becoming increasingly hazardous.
A senior engineer’s response was that the majority of accidents at that junction were small, but due to the speed vehicles are travelling “most are fatalities or involved serious injuries”.
He concluded by saying they would get more signs.
If you support our call for change, please sign our petition to Herts County Council to make the A505 safer at change.org/p/hertfordshire-county-council-make-the-a505-safer-between-royston-and-baldock.
The Crow will be continuing its series of special reports on A505 dangers next week.