Pedestrians and Motorcycles

Pedestrians and Motorcycles: Ignorance is Our Worst Enemy

Pedestrians and motorcycles are a crucial part of the urban landscape, each entitled to their rightful space. Yet, both often find themselves entwined in precarious situations, many times resulting from ignorance. Understanding their shared environment and the risks inherent in it is critical for both parties to coexist safely.

For pedestrians, stepping out onto the roads without an understanding of their surroundings and the dynamics of traffic poses a significant risk. Conversely, motorcycle riders who disregard traffic laws or neglect to consider the pedestrian’s perspective endanger not only themselves but also those around them. In this context, ignorance morphs from a state of unawareness to the worst enemy of safety.

Here are seven points for each party to focus on to reduce risk and ensure a less impactful (no pun intended) outcome:


  1. Be Aware: Stay alert at all times, yes be vigilant, especially when crossing the road. Limit distractions, such as phone usage or loud music through earphones.
  2. Wait it Out: When unsure of a motorcycle’s speed or distance, wait before stepping onto the road. A motorcycle’s smaller profile can make judging speed and distance nearly impossible.
  3. Use Designated Crossings: Always cross at marked pedestrian crossings, where motorcyclists expect a pedestrian presence.
  4. Make Eye Contact: If possible, make eye contact with motorcyclists to ensure they have seen you.
  5. Be Visible: Wear reflective or bright clothing or accessories, especially when walking at night.
  6. Follow Traffic Signals: Obey traffic lights and signals, even when roads appear empty.
  7. Stay Sober: Alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction time. Walking while impaired can be as dangerous as drunk driving.


  1. Expect the Unexpected: Anticipate random behaviour from pedestrians, particularly those using mobile phones or headphones.
  2. Slow Down: In areas with high pedestrian traffic, reduce speed to give yourself more time to react. Do cover your brake levers which will reduce your response time.
  3. Use Lights and Signals: Ensure your headlight is on and use turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if you don’t see any pedestrians around.
  4. Stay Visible: Wear reflective clothing and use your lights to make yourself more noticeable to pedestrians. Don’t hold back on the use of the horn or hooter; use it wisely.
  5. Follow Traffic Laws: Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and stop signals.
  6. Understand Blind Spots: Be aware of blind spots where pedestrians may not see you, such as at corners or in crowded areas at Taxi Ranks or Bus Stops.
  7. Stay Vigilant: Try calling out, out loud in your helmet, every potential hazard-posing pedestrian. You’ll be amazed how quickly your risk to yourself and others drops when you verbalise your observations.

Safety on the roads is not just about adherence to rules. It’s about recognizing our shared responsibilities and ensuring that our actions do not endanger others. Pedestrians and motorcyclists should be mindful of each other, bearing in mind that misjudgement or ignorance can be deadly.

Education, understanding, and respect are our most potent tools in the quest for safer roads.

In line with this, we call on all motorcycle riders: Use the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa as your primary source for rider education and skills development. MSI provides the necessary tools and training resources to ensure that you can ride with skill and confidence.

After all, safety starts with you and “Ignorance is the Decision, not the Think”. Let’s be the change we want there to be!