A spokesman for the horse-drawn carriage owners later made a statement that the horse was suffering from a genetic disease. He quoted a veterinarian who said there was no evidence of mistreatment.
The last recorded incident occurred in September when a horse fell to the ground after being hit by a motorist.
“In 2021, horses have no place to pull tourists onto busy city streets,” said Ally Feldman Taylor, founder of Voters for Animal Rights and former NYCLASS executive director. “This is a practice that is long out of date, and for a city that can truly claim to be progressive, we cannot have horses pulling heavy carriages in the busy streets of the city.”
De Blasio repeated this feeling.
“The horse-drawn carriages just don’t make sense. They are inhuman, ”de Blasio told reporters on Monday. “It’s the 21st century for God’s sake.”
Other cities, including Chicago, have banned carriage rides.
What is the mayor’s plan?
De Blasio only said that he wanted to ban horse-drawn carriages and replace them with “show cars” for tourists. In 2014 NYCLASS unveiled a prototype electric vehicle that resembled an early 20th century touring car.
The vehicle, known as the “horseless eCarriage”, was designed to emulate the open-air experience of driving through the park. According to a description on the NYCLASS website, the car would travel at 5 mph in the park and up to 48 mph on the city streets.
Proponents of traffic have particularly criticized the plan to allow vehicles into Central Park, where cars have been banned from the streets – with the exception of cross streets – since 2018.
However, details of a bill are yet to be released and the mayor’s office did not provide any information when asked. “The mayor has always wanted to do this and we are working with the council and stakeholders to find a solution,” said Danielle Filson, the mayor’s press officer.
What are they saying in the horse-drawn carriage industry?
The representatives and workers of the carriage industry insist that the horses, which have five weeks vacation and regular veterinary examinations, are well looked after by the drivers.
“We’re the ones who really love horses because we choose to spend our working lives with them,” said Christine Hansen, who has been driving a carriage in New York City for nine years.
New York City has 68 licensed horse-drawn carriages with 150 drivers, according to the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents the drivers. The union did not have an estimate of the industry’s income.
Hansen said motorists are not interested in running electric vehicles. “The park was designed so that it can be seen from the back of a carriage,” she added.
Meanwhile, the de Blasio union, which is reportedly considering running for governor, has alleged political motives. Two of NYCLASS’s founders are wealthy people who have given money to the mayor in the past: Wendy Neu, a philanthropist who runs her family-run recycling business, and Steve Nislick, a former real estate manager.
“This is a pathetic, shameful and all-too-well-known transactional maneuver by Mayor de Blasio to get even more campaign money from his campaign supporters,” said Tony Utano, President of TWU Local 100. “This was always about campaign money and everyone knows it. “
The issue is now intertwined with de Blasio’s potential candidacy for governorship. In an appearance on Spectrum News NY1’s Inside City Hall on Monday, de Blasio said he was open to the idea of a nationwide ban on horse-drawn carriages.
“A lot of great cities around the world have just said it’s anachronistic, we’re getting rid of the horse-drawn carriages,” de Blasio told host Errol Louis. “I don’t think they have a place in New York City or upstate New York.”
Will the plan work out?
It is unclear how much support a bill banning horse-drawn carriages would find in the city council. The New York Post recently reported from unnamed sources that there was “no appetite” to adopt such laws.
Queens councilor Robert Holden, a moderate Democrat and frequent critic of the mayor, is said to be working on a bill, according to The Post.
Attempts to reach Holden on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
When asked if his last-minute move would work, the mayor replied, “It’s the end of our term for all of us. Sometimes it is possible to get some things done. “
What is the position of Mayor-elect Eric Adams on this issue?
Evan Thies, a spokesman for the mayor-elect, said Adams did not support the ban but was “open to discuss the issue.”