A Peaceful Commute


Ben Walker finds himself in a particularly lucky position. Living less than a mile away from a city park on the water, UT is just a few miles downriver from his home. That¹s where his kayak comes in. While driving to campus takes him less than ten minutes, kayaking to and from work takes him around fifty minutes each way, but the time investment is worth it.

“I do relish the days I commute by kayak. When I get on the water it is like stepping into another world. In the morning, the river is serene and as smooth as glass. The geese are taking care of their young. The herons and egrets are out fishing for breakfast. It is a different view of Knoxville,” Ben explains. He notes that he is generally the only person on the river in the morning, making the commute solitary and peaceful.

Kayaking to work every day isn’t possible because the weather has to be just right. However, this summer has offered many opportunities for navigating the river. With construction underway on campus and nearby streets, Ben has been grateful to be able to avoid the cone zones and traffic challenges others have experienced driving to and from work.

However, there is one challenge Ben faces—parking. Imagine having to find a secure parking space for a kayak.

It takes just a few minutes to climb out of the kayak and onto the dock, strap a set of wheels on the back of the kayak, and take a short walk under Neyland Drive to reach campus. But what then?

BenWalkerBen didn’t expect UT to come up with a parking solution for kayaks, so he had to get a little creative. After registering his “vehicle” with UT Parking and Transit Services and getting a permit, he has been parking the kayak at a bike rack.

Colleagues who enjoy Tai Chi, mountain biking, walking, and other recreational pursuits, might think Ben’s kayaking is his daily exercise regimen. Not so. Although Ben must keep paddling the entire time if he wants to keep moving, he doesn’t think of his daily commute as exercise.

As Senior IT administrator, Ben is responsible for anything having to do with technology in the mathematics department comprised of nearly 150 faculty and staff. His duties include managing servers, creating databases, networking, desktop set-up, classroom technology support, website construction, and maintenance of the math lab for students. It’s a job he loves, but it can get a little stressful at times. At the end of the day, Ben is ready for a peaceful commute.

“Going home is just as nice as coming in.” Ben says. “As soon as I get on the river, I can feel the day melt away.”