Kenya: Annoying Nairobi Pedestrians Who Won't Give Way at Traffic Lights

Pedestrians are often crying foul regarding road usage with most of the blame going to motorists for the dangers they face while crossing roads.

What many, however, do not consider are traffic lights that are used to control busy streets and roads.

The lights give generous time to pedestrians to cross the roads. On some streets, the amount of time given to pedestrians by the traffic, lights is three times more than what motorists are accorded yet pedestrians disregard the lights and keep crossing.

One such junction is the Kimathi Street one that joins Kenyatta Avenue; here motorists have only 16 seconds to join the avenue while pedestrians enjoy 63 seconds of crossing the busy junction.

Interestingly, when traffic lights turn green for motorists to drive, pedestrians eat into that time scrambling to cross.

The junction where Kenyatta Avenue joins Moi Avenue has similar challenges; when the traffic lights turn green, pedestrians keep crossing.


Some of the pedestrians admit to knowingly ignore traffic lights while others are unaware that some streets are controlled by lights.

"As pedestrians, we have the right of way, I do not wait for the lights because drivers are supposed to give us priority," a pedestrian, Peter Miano told Nairobi News.

According to another pedestrian Ken Kamau, it is hard to tell whether the traffic is being controlled by the lights or the traffic marshals.

"Sometimes I wait for the lights to turn red and instead of motorists stopping, the kanjo traffic guys signal drivers to keep moving and I'm left there wondering what the lights were meant for. Nowadays I do not stop, I just cross when I see an opportunity," he explained.

According to the Traffic Act, pedestrians who fail to give way to vehicles risk a fine of Sh500.

A Nairobi county government traffic marshal who spoke to Nairobi News said they stopped enforcing the law on pedestrians after public outcry.

"Pedestrians cry foul every time they break the law. We tried enforcing the fine and people started accusing us of harassment and extortion so now we just let them cross and when they get knocked we just ignore because they are clearly breaking the law," said the marshal.

On the confusion marshals bring by disregarding the lights, the officer explained that sometimes they control traffic based on the flow of vehicles as the lights installed are not smart hence lack the sensors required to regulate traffic according to the number of vehicles on each road.

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