From the New York Times Canada Letter:

When a senior American cabinet secretary shows up for an interview, it usually involves a motorcade of sleek, black cars complete with a “security package,” as they euphemistically call the guys with guns.

When Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, showed up this week for our public discussion at the University of Toronto, she came by bicycle.

Through the snow.

She didn’t seem to think much of it. This is Canada, after all.


  1. Telling! I met some years ago with the deputy minister of finance for Sweden. Even better story. He said his government encouraged senior officials to commute to work by bicycle, and he was only too happy to comply.

    1. Would that leaders at all levels of government walked (or rode) the talk; Vancouver is coming up on 30 years as authors of North America’s first municipal climate change policy paper and one of the early neighbourhood bike networks. Yet I presume all but one member of council drive to City Hall…or perhaps all 11? Any transit, cycling or carpooling going on? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. A great tribute to “Canadianess”, I’m distressed, however, to see that helmet pushed so far back on Ms. Freeland’s forehead. It’s a bit too evocative of the uselessness of certain political rhetoric.

  3. That bike with a frame geometry like it has is incapable of tipping forward. She doesn’t need a helmet for any reason other than propaganda and possibly a bad law.

  4. Ungainly is the word that comes to mind looking at this photo.
    The bicycle does not fit her right – there’s too much bend in the knees – a longer seat post might help.
    And the helmet … omg … she clearly just doesn’t want to be harassed by people who don’t know any better.
    The absurd helmet law reminds me of the woman in Maple Ridge who would often not wear a top, reasoning, rightly, that it is discriminatory to only allow males to not wear shirts. Wackos thought “thar’s jes’ sumpin’ wrong with that woman”. She fought the law and she won.
    Likewise, bully motordom, without benefit of facts, thinks there’s “sumpin’ wrong with them cyclists that don’t wear helmets”.
    Helmets do not increase safety unless there’s someone running around with a baseball bat bashing people on the head. They actually increase danger unless you are road racing, or mountain biking, though even big bike races like the Tour and the Giro did not require helmet use.
    There are a number of reasons for this. One, is what insurance companies refer to as a moral hazard, aka risk compensation. To wit, if you hand over the keys of a Lambo to a teenager, he will soon wrap himself around a pole. That’s how the scion of Army Navy did himself in. Fortunately, he didn’t kill someone else in the process.
    Most of the time, it’s best to wear a snug baseball cap. It keeps the sun out of your eyes; rain off your glasses. It can keep you warm, or can be quickly taken off and hung from the handlebar to cool down.

    1. Right. I think it’s long overdue for people to stand up and demand that they prove that head injury is a possibility when cycling. If they can’t prove it (which they can’t), then it should be struck down. The justification for the law in the first place was based on a fraud. That’s not how policy or laws should come about.

  5. She needs to be fitted properly – this bicycle looks too long for her squat body. Awkward. A possibility, to salvage this one, along with a taller seat post, is a higher head tube stem and moustache handlebars – these would allow an upright position – if that’s what she wants.

  6. I can’t imagine current US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, or his predecessor Rex Tillerson, even getting within camera-shot of a bicycle, let alone use one for any reason. It is so unlikely it wouldn’t even work as parody. Americans would see such a thing as proof they were living in the end times and that the Democrats had finally succeeded in destroying the nation. Canada is so less cartoonishly insane.

  7. If you punch in Linus Bikes, Vancouver, you come up with: “Are you a woman under 5’, having a hard time finding an adult bike …”
    She bought the marketing, and a crude expensive bicycle that doesn’t fit right.
    Further investigation shows that this brand only surfaced 10 years ago. A couple of designer guys from, where else, California, barfed it up.
    There is great design for function. This is not. This is idiot design for looks.
    Maybe this bicycle looks good to the untrained eye, but with this rider … uh uh.
    And with that ridiculous helmet … omg.
    Thumbs up for trying though.
    Thumbs down to the bike shop that flogged it.

    1. I think Linus bikes are pretty affordable for what you’re getting. Sure a Gazelle or Simcoe would be a better bike but as far as an upright riding style frame goes, Linuses are easier to find. (Canadian Tire has their “Everyday” line too.)

      This particular example though is just too small for her body size. It can be adjusted by raising the seat and handlebars if that’s all there is. It looks like the Linus “Lil Dutchie”. She should really be on the “Dutchie”.

      The area around the U of T is very bikeable without having any special infrastructure. Toronto rarely has snow on the streets themselves so you can bike around all year. It’s flat. Destinations are close to each other.

      I agree, she can lose the helmet.

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