Fire trucks in New York.


Image by Anthony Delanoix |

The fire trucks go a lot slower in New York than they do in Adelaide.

For someone used to seeing fire trucks moving along city streets at speed, watching them thread their way through traffic on Eighth Avenue, with sirens wailing and horns blaring, is disconcerting – and hard on the ears. Maybe things burn a lot slower here than they do in Australia. Who knows?

But, it’s not just the fire trucks. The ambulances have a hard time getting through as well.

It’s not that the drivers here ignore emergency vehicles. New Yorkers are justifiably proud of their first responders, but drivers often have nowhere to go to get out of their way. New York’s grid of streets might make it easy for finding your way around, but it’s also packed with traffic lights to regulate the flow of traffic on the East – West streets that cross the busy avenues, and they seem to be very close together.

Eighth Avenue is one of the streets that carries traffic uptown. Interestingly, it has a lane that allows bike riders to slip past all that traffic which blocks in the emergency vehicles. Sometimes I see a fire department support vehicle or a NYPD squad car shoot up the bike lane, and I wonder if there is a lesson there for the City Council – like having a dedicated lane for emergency vehicles on Eighth Avenue.

IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.