Humane Alternatives for Horse-Drawn Carriages

Hear What NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio Has to Say

10 February 2011
Hear What NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio Has to Say

The carriage horses of Central Park have been enduring the
beginnings of another long, harsh winter. After years of trying to
reform the industry, the time has come for New York City to turn the
page, and finally embrace safer, more humane alternatives to the
horse-drawn carriages.

London, Paris, Las Vegas, Toronto and Beijing -- New York City's
chief rivals for tourism -- have all banned horse-drawn carriages in
recent years, and with good reason. Our city's carriage horses work
strenuous hours throughout the week and unlike the horses that plied the
park a hundred years ago, today's horses travel on hard asphalt roads
that wear down and damage their feet (ironically, many runners prefer
the park's "bridle path" to avoid this problem themselves). A damaged
foot means a carriage horse can't work, which puts it at risk of being
sold off to highest bidder. As you might guess, there aren't a lot of
happy endings.

Beyond these concerns, horse drawn carriages bring with them a whole
set of practical problems that need to be considered. The pace of the
carriages slows down traffic in the already-congested streets of our
city, while animal waste that is often not picked up creates a public
health and sanitation problem.

And because of the array of stimuli -- noise, trucks, buses, and cabs
-- bombarding the horses, they can sometimes react in unpredictable
ways, causing crashes and injuries to the drivers and pedestrians in the
area. Late last year a horse traveling up Seventh Avenue was grazed by a
passing bus. Frightened out of its wits, the horse brought traffic to a
standstill. And earlier last year, a spooked horse ran across Central
Park South against the traffic and sideswiped several cars before

There are better solutions out there. The City Council is currently
considering legislation, Intro. 86, that would phase out horse drawn
carriages while transitioning to electric cars that will provide a 21st
century version of the traditional charming ride around Central Park.
Passing this bill would enable the city to show a better face to the
millions that pass through Central Park every year, while preserving a
quintessential New York City experience and the jobs that come with it.
And it is critical that if this legislation is passed we make sure that
carriage drivers are trained to use the new electric so no jobs are

We should not wait for the next exposé on horses being mistreated, or
the next crash that leaves a New Yorker injured or worse. It's time
for New Yorkers to rally around a safer, more humane alternative to the
horse and carriage.

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