12

I couldn't figure out how to express this in English. In Swedish it is called "Att leda en cykel", but directly translating it to English ("to lead a bicycle") seems to mean something different. Google Translate gave me "passing a bike", which also seems to be incorrect according to a Google Image Search (just literally passing).

enter image description here

Edit:

There seems to be some discussion about which expressions are used in is US and British English. I would love to see a comment about that (US, British or Both) in the answers as well.

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    German uses "führen" (to lead) as well as "schieben" (to push). (In between German, Swedish and English, I always found it educating to look at how the third language in that group "does things".) – DevSolar Nov 23 '15 at 13:15
22

English doesn't have a single common expression for walking next to a bicycle, holding its handlebars and pushing it along next to you. It is a common action that is merely expressed in many different ways. The different ways to say it have slightly different connotations.

Technically all of these mean the same thing. It is all about where you are directing the reader's attention.

"pushing a bicycle" may imply more effort. For example:

"pushing the bike uphill" -- Sloane's New Bicycle Maintenance Manual

"wheeling a bicycle" feels like less effort -- focusing on the bike's wheels makes it feel faster

"I walked Sebastian home, all the while wheeling the bicycle" --The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

or

"he walked briskly, wheeling his bicycle by his side" --90 CRIME NOVELS

"walking a bicycle" puts the focus on the person walking

"Bailey tipped his hat and walked his bicycle around the side of the cabin." --The Bicycle Man

"Lou walked his bicycle over to the top of a gentle slope" --Clueless

"Walk your Bike" is common on roadsigns (as mentioned by TRomano in another answer). This is a directive, emphasizing walk instead of ride, meaning that you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk and must therefore walk your bike.

enter image description here

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    Wow, that sign's confusing. What does it mean? "You must walk your bike and you must do it on the sidewalk, not the road"? "If you're walking your bike, do it on the sidewalk, not the road"? "If you take your bike on the sidewalk, you must walk it, not ride it"? Something else? – David Richerby Nov 22 '15 at 22:08
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    @DavidR - Though all your interpretations are grammatically valid, I'm pretty sure that sign simply means "Don't ride your bike on the sidewalk." – J.R. Nov 23 '15 at 9:12
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    @J.R. Thanks. That does seem the most likely, but I think all three interpretations are realistic, and not just grammatically valid. There are places where cycling on the road is forbidden, leading to the first interpretation; there are places where cycling in the road is OK but pedestrians should stay on the sidewalk, leading to the second. I think this is a genuinely confusing sign, as distinct from the pure pedantry of, e.g., interpreting a "Dogs must be carried" sign as meaning "You're not allowed on this escalator unless you're carrying a dog." – David Richerby Nov 23 '15 at 9:36
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    @J.R. Especially given that they could just say "No cycling on sidewalks", which is clearer and shorter. – David Richerby Nov 23 '15 at 9:37
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    @DavidR - Great points. Don't even get me started on SLOW CHILDREN. :^) – J.R. Nov 23 '15 at 9:37
28

You can call this walking a bicycle. Just to check, I did a Google search for "walking his bike along", and got several hits from news articles and published books, like this one, from a book written by David Baldacci:

He breathed the fresh air and flicked a wave to a kid walking his bike along the side of the road. (Hour Game, 2004)

enter image description here

  • This sounds American to my (British) ears. We would walk the dog (which has legs) but wheel the bike (which hasn't). – Brian Drummond Nov 23 '15 at 14:29
  • @BrianDrummond - As a Brit I would be most likely to push my bike, but I would be more likely to walk it than to wheel it, unless it was over a very short distance (i.e. round the corner of a building). – AndyT Nov 23 '15 at 15:06
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    @BrianDrummond: It's definitely my experience that "walk the bike" is the standard term in US English. "Wheel the bike" sounds unusual to me. – Nate Eldredge Nov 23 '15 at 15:08
  • @BrianDrummond I'd love to see an answer highlighting the differences between US and British English – Hjulle Nov 23 '15 at 15:34
  • @BrianDrummond "walking" the bike involves your legs, while saying nothing of whether the bike has legs or not. Thinking of other things, though, that rarely applies: you walk the dog (which hinges on its legs, not yours...if you had an RC car with a leash to your dog, you'd still be walking the dog), drive the car, push the wagon, roll the wheelbarrow, etc. Still, the idiom in America is to "walk" the bike. Perhaps it was once "walk with the bike" and the with was dropped over time. – Tim S. Nov 23 '15 at 18:17
9

A term would be pushing a bicycle.

5

I've heard wheeling the bike along used before, though Googling the phrase mostly gives pictures/videos of people doing wheelies instead! I did find a few uses, such as this. It's possible that this usage is specific to the UK.

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    This phrase is definitely used in the UK. Most of the Google hits seem to involve the phrase "one wheeling a bike", which is what I'd call "pulling a wheelie". – David Richerby Nov 22 '15 at 22:14
  • Indeed; I've added a note that this might be specific to the UK. "Pulling a wheelie" is the phrase I'd use for that too; perhaps another purely British phrase :) – Tetrinity Nov 23 '15 at 9:48
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    @Tetrinity: As an American I'd say popping a wheelie. – Nate Eldredge Nov 23 '15 at 15:09

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