Our use of ‘walking’ and ‘pedestrian’

When we refer to ‘walking’ or ‘pedestrian’ we mean to include those who use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or mobility scooters, or who may be pushing children in buggies or otherwise moving at walking pace on a pavement or path in the public realm.

Some mobility aid users are happy to use ‘walking’ or ‘going for a walk’ when moving around outdoors and do not wish to be separately categorised. However, others have pointed out that the term ‘walking’ may be taken to exclude those who use wheeled mobility aids.

‘Walking and wheeling’, ‘walking/wheeling’, ‘rolling and strolling’ are starting to be used as terms to explicitly include people who use wheeled mobility aids [1-4].

The safety of those using pavements and paths is largely dependent on the relative speeds of those moving along these routes. That is why we believe it is the speed of movement that is important, and faster-moving vehicles should be separated from those moving at walking speed.

Bristol Walking Alliance will continue to discuss these issues with members of equalities groups.


1. ‘How we’re making our language more inclusive‘ Sustrans, May 2022

2. ‘Walking for everyone: Making walking and wheeling more inclusive‘ Sustrans, Living Streets and Arup, March 2022

3. ‘Walking, Wheeling, and Cycling Definitions‘ Wheels for Wellbeing, October 2021

4. Roll and Stroll – Bristol Disability Equality Forum (bristoldef.org.uk)

2 thoughts on “Our use of ‘walking’ and ‘pedestrian’”

  1. I’d like to suggest that the concept of mobility aid should include bicycle (and tricycle), propelled by legs or arms and with or without electric assistance. I know a few disabled people who have great difficulty walking but can easily cycle, some to the extent that they will talk a (small, folding) bike (such as a Brompton) with them into a supermarket and use it as another person might use a stick or wheeled frame. I don’t mean that a cycle should be viewed as a mobility aid to walking while being ridden – especially not that cycling and walking should share the same space, which is inconvenient for both groups of people – but that a bike should be included as a mobility aid when used as such.

    As for the terminology used, while I can see that ‘walking’ might be viewed as exclusionary, I don’t find any of the others satisfactory. ‘Walking/wheeling’ is okay but ‘rolling and strolling’ sounds somehow too easy; ‘going for a stroll’ is a wonderful thing, but might not accurately describe the experience of someone who needs a mobility aid! I also feel that one word to cover both modes might be better than a composite phrase, but it should be an extant, easily understood word, not a specially created portmanteau. But what? If I think of such a word, I’ll suggest it, but so far…

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