Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Pedestrian Definition:

An individual travelling on foot.

Related Terms: Zebra Crossing

A person not in or operating a vehicle, travelling on foot.

The definition of a pedestrian is often set out in the relevant motor vehicle sttaute in which case, that definition prevails. For example, some laws require that a pedestrian on a highway travel close to the left-hand edge of the highway.

Generally, a pedestrian is a person who travels on foot; who walks whether for pleasure, sport, or exercise and is often distinguished from one travelling by car or bycycle.1

In R. v. Atchison, Madam Justice Ellen Picard adopted this definition of a pedestrian:

"While ... pedestrian generally refer(S) to a person travelling on foot, this Court has previously noted that the definition of pedestrian ... includes persons on roller skates, ice skates, stilts or crutches. Persons travelling with the aid of these types of devices can still be considered to be travelling on foot, as opposed to in a vehicle, and it is our view that the ordinary and grammatical meaning of the word pedestrian is broad enough to encompass persons travelling on skateboards or similar devices.

"Thus, when the ordinary and grammatical meaning of the word pedestrian is considered in light of the object and scheme of the Traffic Safety Act (R.S.A. 2000, c. T-6) and the intention of the (Alberta) Legislature, it is our view that it must include persons on skateboards and similar devices."

Over forty years earlier, this was also the essence of the definition offered by of the California Court of Appeals in Jermane v Forfar:

"The word pedestrian (means) a walker; one who journeys on foot; a foot traveler.

"It is already judicially established that a person walking upon or across a highway does not cease to be a pedestrian when pushing a cart or a lawn mower or a baby carriage or a bicycle or when pulling a cart.

"In several jurisdictions the question whether or not a person traveling upon or across a highway upon roller skates is a pedestrian, has been presented for judicial determination. In each case which has come to our attention the court has deemed him a pedestrian.

"While it is true that a pedestrian is ordinarily understood to be one who travels on foot, nevertheless the mere circumstance that he or she has attached to his or her feet roller skates, or ice skates, or walks on stilts, or uses crutches, or is without feet and propels himself or herself along by means of a chair or by some other mechanical device, does not clothe him or her, in a broad and general sense, with any other character than that of a pedestrian."


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