During treadmill walking, the subject’s stride length (SL) and duration (ST) yield a stride speed (SS) which fluctuates over a narrow range centered on the treadmill belt’s speed. We recently demonstrated that ST and SL trends are strongly correlated and serve as control manifolds about which the corresponding gait parameters fluctuate. The fundamental problem, which has not yet been investigated, concerns the contribution of SL and ST fluctuations to SS variability. To investigate this relation, we approximate SS variance by the linear combination of SL variance and ST variance, as well as their covariance. The combination coefficients are nonlinear functions of ST and SL mean values and, consequently, depend on treadmill speed. The approximation applies to constant speed treadmill walking and walking on a treadmill whose belt speed is perturbed by strong, high-frequency noise. In the first case, up to 80% of stride speed variance comes from SL fluctuations. In the presence of perturbations, the SL contribution decreases with increasing speed, but its lowest value is still twice as large as that of either ST variance or SL-ST covariance. The presented evidence supports the hypothesis that stride length adjustments are primarily responsible for speed maintenance during walking. Such a control strategy is evolutionarily advantageous due to the weak speed dependence of the SL contribution to SS variance. The ability to maintain speed close to that of a moving cohort did increase the chance of an individual’s survival throughout most of human evolution.