NYC Mayor, Carriage Cabbies Reach Agreement

NYC Mayor, Carriage Cabbies Reach Agreement

The agreement would reduce the number of horses on New York City’s streets from 220 to 75.

Photo: Photos.com

New York City's carriage trade would be down-sized and its horse stables relocated to a renovated Central Park facility under an agreement between Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city's carriage cabbies, and Teamster carriage driver Steven Malone.

In 2014, the nonprofit organization New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) called for a citywide ban on horse-drawn carriages on grounds that the carriages were inhumane. At that time, 16 members of the city council pledged to support a NYCLASS ordinance that would replace horse-drawn cabs with electric vintage-replica cars.

The proposal sparked controversy between some equine welfare advocates and carriage horse owners and drivers who argued that further regulation would force them to relinquish their horses to new owners. It also spawned several copycat proposals in cities across the United States, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City.

Initial legislation to ban the carriages was presented in the New York City Council, but it never reached the council floor.

On Jan. 15, de Blasio, along with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, officials from the carriage drivers' union, and union member and driver Stephen Malone of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, issued a joint statement on an agreement that would reduce the number of horses on New York City’s streets from 220 to 75 and would relocate their stables from the Manhattan's West Side to a building near the Central Park 86th Street Transverse. Another 20 horses would live off-site. Under the agreement, stable renovations would include building stalls of at least 100 square-feet each.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in concept on the future of New York's horse carriage industry,” the group’s joint statement said. “We look forward to working together on the final details of this legislation and getting this passed."

Meanwhile, some horse advocates believe the deal is a bad one.

“Putting the stables in Central Park is not going to relieve this,” opined Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. “Also, fewer horses will still be working nine hours a day, seven days a week between the shafts of their carriages in the very congested Central Park, where horses have spooked.”

Meanwhile, Michael McKeon of NYCLASS declined to comment directly on the agreement.

“When we see the bill in print and understand all the details, we will have more to say,” he said.

Particulars of the agreement will now be written into a bill to be presented before the New York City Council. When the legislation will be put before the council is uncertain.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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