Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend kicks off what's commonly referred to as the "Summer Driving Season." It's the time of year when we take vacations, burn a lot of gas, and pay more at the pump as prices spike due to increased demand. That, however, raises the question: With oil at $130 a barrel and gas already two-bits shy of four bucks, how expensive will it be by September?
People are already starting to adjust. Fuel efficiency has once more become a major concern for car shoppers. Small-car sales are up, as are hybrids. Even KAT's ridership has increased—which, in a car-loving city like Knoxville, is a sure indication that things are getting serious.
Up to a point, at least. Starting this week, the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization is hosting a series of meetings gathering input for the Knoxville Regional Mobility Plan. The plan itself is a good thing, even though I wonder if anyone really knows what transportation will look like 25 years from now. But I had to chuckle at the response generated when announcements about the meetings started turning up on various local Internet forums. There was a lot of railing against the region's lack of, well, rail. If only Knoxville—and, by extension, America—had more trains, our troubles would be solved.
Where, exactly, the trains will run is typically left vague—with good reason. Most of America's sprawling suburban infrastructure is as unfriendly to transit as it is to walking. And pundits like the New York Times' Paul Krugman aren't helping, suggesting Americans give up the traditional freestanding single-family home for "four- or five-story apartment buildings."
Truth is, you don't have to give up your house and yard to be transit—or pedestrian—friendly. Take this Victorian on Jefferson Avenue in Parkridge. Ford's Model T was still 10 years away when it was built, but you could walk a block over to Washington, hop a streetcar and be downtown within minutes. Still can, too—a KAT bus runs down Washington, more or less tracing the old trolley's route.
The streetcar isn't all that's been updated, either. Recently renovated, this home has central heat and air and a brand new kitchen with stainless-steel appliances as well as historic details like hardwood floors, beadboard wainscoting, and a claw-foot tub. And unlike that new Prius you've been thinking about, at less than $85 per square foot, this fuel-saving option doesn't come with a premium price tag.
2536 Jefferson Avenue
2,184 sq. ft.
4 bedroom/2 bath
Contact: Jennifer Montgomery