Kiera Bonifacio, above, launches her bike off of one of the ramps at the bike show this weekend past.
The BMX scene in Toronto from a female perspective
Bike Show brings out the best in BMX
Story by Sonya Allin
Photos by Robin Sutherland
Sibi, my four year old daughter, is just at the age where she’s ready to ride a bike. I feel my job is to get her excited about riding; to show her that cycling not only can get you around, but that it can be playful, adventurous, creative and fun. My partner first got excited about bikes by riding small homemade BMX tracks in his neighborhood. So this weekend, we went as a family to the Toronto BMX Jam at the Toronto International Bicycle Show, to check out some of the BMX fun.
The opportunities for Sibi to see girls and women in BMX and in Toronto, though, are still pretty few and far between. BMX, in general, has had a bit of a bumpy go of things across the city in recent years, with bike parks having been removed and some residents claiming cyclists threaten green space and pedestrians.
Practicing tricks is hard enough when there are no local parks; when you’re the only girl in the park, getting in some good runs can seem more daunting still, as BMX is still very much a male-dominated sport.
Things are changing, though, thanks to local bike enthusiasts and amazingly talented young women who continue to excel and inspire in the sport. In 2012, the Wallace Emerson BMX Park was created as a result of local residents’ dedication, filling a void in the urban cycling landscape. This summer will (knock on wood) see the unveiling of the Sunnyside Bike Park, and will demonstrate ways that BMX can enhance, rather than oppose, Toronto’s green space. All the while, Joyride 150, a private indoor bike park in Markham, has been there to support BMX (and its women) by means of innovative programming and world-class facilities. And the Ladies class at Toronto BMX Bike Jam consistently attracts many of the world’s best women and girls in BMX, including some, like Lily Melluso and Kiera Bonifacio, who call GTA their home.