One of the most heated issues of the 2013 mayoral election may finally be getting a resolution: Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to introduce a horse-drawn carriage ban to the City Council in December. The proposal would abolish the carriages by not extending licenses given to drivers, which are currently set to expire in May 2016.
If the bill gets the requisite 26 votes to clear the City Council, driving such carriages will be outlawed, save for on movie sets or on other special occasions. (In Utah, the city council in Salt Lake unanimously banned such operations last week.) In exchange, the city will provide training for those who worked with the horses, and offer licensed carriage drivers free green cab medallions — worth about $6,000 — as long as they promise to buy accessible cabs.
Predictably, while advocates of the ban say it will save horses from inhumane conditions, drivers of the 68 licensed carriages are less than thrilled. “If they offered me a green cab medallion I wouldn’t take it,” one told the New York Post. “They really just want our West Side stable for real estate development.”
Horse-drawn carriages were one of the key issues differentiating de Blasio from presumed front-runner Christine Quinn in the mayoral election. NYCLASS, an anti-carriage group thrilled by the new proposal, was even investigated by the FBI for possible sketchy funding activities in the 2013 race.
The potential demise of horse-drawn carriages doesn’t mean tourists will have to walk their way around Central Park, however. The eCarriage, an old-timey green car with a similar seating setup, is the leading contender to replace the horses. While it evokes the same 19th-century feel as the horses, it boasts the added advantages of being cruelty- and smell-free.
And, lest you worry that ol’ Daisy will end up at a glue mill after her tourist-hauling days are over, the proposal takes care of that, too: It mandates that owners prove they’re not sending their horses away to a slaughterhouse.