The Bicycle Diaries of a Big Girl: Not easy being green 

click to enlarge Coyne and her little frog legs.
  • Coyne and her little frog legs.

This is part of a series of stories about Katelyn Coyne's foray into the realm of commuter bicycling.

"It's not easy being green." The old adage from Kermit T. Frog seems ever relevant these days. Devoting oneself to sustainable living takes careful planning and execution. It adds time to your already hectic day, to the point where it seems better to just not try.

But the recent re-launch of Indiana Living Green, and the magazine's "no-waste" party at City Market last Saturday got me thinking: How difficult is it, really? One of my favorite new series on ILG is Jim Poyser's "Doom & Bloom." In one article, this consummate commuter cyclist writes about his experience coasting through Indy by bike, drawing attention to motorists whose mode of transportation flies in the face of his own efforts.

"Every day," he writes, "I wait at a major intersection - Meridian Street - and count the number of cars heading downtown, going to work. The other day I counted 14 cars with a single occupant, before a car with a passenger went by. On average, 90% of cars have one occupant."

Relative to Mr. Poyser, I'm an infant when it comes to cycling. He can step up to preach because he practices green living in some way every day. Despite my best efforts during the past month, I haven't been able to wean myself off of the juicy teet we call oil dependence. My dirty little secret: I've still been driving. What's worse, I've been driving to places which I could easily bike. But the thought of how easy it is to cut my carbon emissions in half simply by offering a ride to a friend stuck with me.

So I decided, this week, to make living green an active priority. If I was traveling alone, it would be by bike.

Like a kind of magic, the city of Indianapolis opened up for me. I biked to get my taxes done. I biked the Canal to my part-time job at the Eiteljorg. I biked to the grocery, to the bank, to rehearsal. I biked to Flying Cupcake, to City Market, to the Pita Pit. I even biked up to National Moto in SoBro.

I found a sense of empowerment in the thought that the power to get from "A" to "B" exists within me. It hit me when I was pulling around the corner of 11th and Emerson to visit a friend on the Eastside. My memory placed the image of his house in my muscles, but my memory had me sitting in a car. For an instant, my body's reality of being upright on a bike clashed with my muscle memory. And I felt elation, accomplishment... transcendence even.

But how long does that power last?

After a day of riding downtown, taking pictures for a one of my other jobs, I was beat. My poor little frog legs had given out as I cycled up College on my way home for a pre-rehearsal snack. I still had to make it to all the way to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, after rehearsal was moved from East 10th Street to the museum. My knees buckled as I dragged my bike up three flights of stairs, and collapsed in the middle of the kitchen floor. No way could I make the trek north and then south again after dark.

I reluctantly got in my car... alone. To make matters worse, I found out when I arrived that I could have carpooled with a fellow cast member. If only I had the forethought.

In the end, I was defeated by my own lack of planning and my own lack of stamina. Both of which take time to increase. But one defeat doesn't make me a failure. As Winston Churchill said, "True success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." I find it applicable for all of us, who - with the best intentions - fail at living green. As long as I get on my bike the next day to ride, I'm still doing my part.

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Katelyn Coyne

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