Seems like Mayor De Blasio is finally making good on one of his campaign promises. Multiple sources indicate that De Blasio will introduce a bill next week banning carriage horses in the city, starting in 2016. One of the major objections to a proposed elimination of the industry has to do with jobs: The carriage horse drivers are one of the blue-collar institutions of New York City, and banning horses will essentially put those folks out of work. The solution that De Blasio has supposedly hit on is to offer those drivers green taxi permits for free. (The going rate for them, right now, is at least $6,000.)
But the carriage horse drivers aren’t particularly convinced. According to the New York Post, many drivers suspect that De Blasio’s real motive is freeing up the stable space the horses occupy on the west side of Manhattan for future development. The drivers also flatly reject the idea that their horses are treated inhumanely, another subject frequently raised in debates over the carriage industry. “We buy these horses from the Amish by the pound. If not for us they would be dog food and glue,” one driver told the Post. “The horses get better health care and more vacation than we do.”
There are 68 carriages licensed for operation right now, and they raise an estimated $19 million annually. But animal activists argue that New York City streets aren’t safe places for horses, proven by accidents between motor vehicles and the carriages. “Friends of Animals is immensely gratified that Mayor De Blasio has produced a carriage horse ban bill that will be officially introduced into the New York City Council in a matter of days,” Friends of Animals’ Campaign Director Edita Birnkrant said in a statement. “We fully support the Council’s swift action to pass this long overdue legislation so that the dangerous and abusive carriage horse trade can finally be abolished. Friends of Animals has monitored, criticized and agitated against the carriage horse trade for over 40 years from our Columbus Circle office. Finally, a Mayor and City Council are primed to banish, not just attempt to regulate, this cruel industry.”
“We are going to get rid of horse carriages, period,” De Blasio said during a press conference his first week in office. Looks like that time has come.