Did You Know?

Half of school children walked or biked to school in 1969, but only 13 percent were doing it in 2009.

Local bike community mourns the passing of Carmelita Sams

All of us at Active Trans were saddened to hear of Carmelita Sams’ passing on Dec. 29.

Regulars, first-time customers and volunteers of Carmelita’s employer, Ciclo Urbano and West Town Bikes of Humboldt Park, were sure to have been touched by her sense of humor and willingness to selflessly go that extra mile — no matter what the task.

Even when facing the cancer that eventually took her life this holiday season.

I first met Carmelita last spring when planning the promotional video for the 2013 Bike Commuter Challenge, “Who Changed Your Mind?” After posting a notice looking for someone to feature in the video, we met Carmelita. She was perfect in the role.

The essence of the Bike Commuter Challenge — Active Trans’ annual Chicago Bike Week employer competition — is creating new bike commuters by showing just how practical it can be.

Women — especially those with children, like Carmelita — tend to choose commuting by bike as a decision of practicality.

The shoot for the video was done in a single, 12-hour day in early April on location in Highland Park and in the Active Trans office in River North.

Making a video is always extremely hard work for all involved: Hours can go into getting the material for just a few seconds of video. A single finished shot that lasts only second can require up to 20 takes.

The time in between takes, while the director and cameraman move around the camera and lighting equipment, means interminable waits for the actors.

Carmelita handled all of it as a complete professional, despite no acting or film experience at all.

It was an enormous pleasure having her be a part of something we could all be proud of,” said Jordan Amandes, director/producer for North Lincoln Films and director of the Bike to Work Week video featuring Carmelita. While directing her, I would explain each scene and she would always add a part of her own personality that elevated our video from good to great. She’s a true class act and an all-around fantastic person.

Watch the video featuring Carmelita.