City Hall Calls an Audible on Carriage Horses

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A man waits in a horse drawn carriage outside of Central Park on April 15, 2010 in New York, New York. A new law that passed the New York City Council will require carriage horses to have bigger stalls, five weeks of yearly rest time, and blankets to keep them warm in cold temperatures. The law, which is expected to be signed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will also raise the price of a carriage ride to $50 for the first 20 minutes instead of the current $34 for the first half-hour
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Just in time for the cold weather to permafrost the horse manure to the Central Park pavement, Mayor de Blasio reportedly wants to try again to pass a tweaked version of his carriage-horse legislation. A report in the New York Times Tuesday suggests that City Hall now wants to lower the number of carriage horses and impose some restrictions on the industry, but will no longer push for an outright ban. 

The new proposal would limit the number of horses from 220 to about 70, reports the Daily News. The bill would also require the horses to move from their current stable location on West 52nd Street to a facility in Central Park to keep the animals away from the street traffic.

Then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio had promised to eliminate Central Park carriages on the first day of his term, and got strong backing — and campaign contributions — from animal-rights groups. But the mayor has been unable to make good on that vow. The current carriage-ban bill has been stuck in City Council since December, and council members have appeared less than enthusiastic about the legislation. De Blasio admitted as such this summer, when he told WNYC: “What I would say to every advocate is, you already have my vote; go get the votes in the City Council. Solidify the support in the City Council so we can make this change.”

It’s unclear whether even the revised plan will gain traction with the City Council. But according to the Times, de Blasio is determined to follow through on his campaign promise — or at least the next-best solution in the face of the current stalemate. “We continue to work for legislation that represents a humane and equitable solution that moves the horses off our streets, safeguards the animals, and protects the livelihoods of the men and women who provide carriage rides,” a City Hall spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for NYCLASS, an animal-rights group advocating for the ban, told Daily Intelligencer that the safety of the carriage horses remains their number-one priority. “We need to see more details, and, frankly, we need to see action and not just promises. But we will continue to work with the mayor and city leaders to protect the horses.” 

No update on whether we’ll be seeing any of those funky e-carriages any time soon.