By Ivan Pentchoukov
NEW YORK—State Sen. Tony Avella joined members of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages at the Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue and Central Park South on Sunday to advocate for a horse-drawn carriage ban in light of a recent New York City incident.
After being spooked, a horse drawing an unmanned carriage bolted into traffic, ran wild for two blocks, and crashed into a vehicle on July 16.
“It’s just one example. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the coverage that it should have, but [it’s] just one more example of how it’s too dangerous—plus the fact that it’s an inhumane practice for the animal. It’s just too dangerous to have them [horse-drawn carriages] in Midtown traffic,” said Avella.
Avella recently introduced to the state Senate Bill S5013 that would ban the operation of horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a companion bill in the state Assembly.
According to Avella, the bill is likely to pass in the state Senate, but is unlikely to make it through the city Legislature because both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have opposed the ban. “They are both against the ban based upon the fact that this is somehow this huge tourist industry and the city is getting all this revenue from it,” Avella said.
“Horse-drawn carriage rides are an iconic part of New York City,” the mayor stated in a press release. “Every year, hundreds of thousands of people looking for a piece of old-world New York charm enjoy a carriage ride around Central Park, and through the magic of television and movies, carriage rides have become synonymous with New York City.”
A ride in a carriage costs $50 plus tip for the first 20 minutes and $20 per 10 minutes thereafter. There were 68 licensed horse carriages in 2007, according to the comptroller’s report.
New York City’s official tourism guide, www.nycgo.com, does not mention carriage horses as an attraction.
Horses are prey animals and are easily spooked. A woman was killed and several people were injured by a spooked horse during a parade in Iowa in 2010. In 2006 and 2007, two horses, named Spotty and Smoothie, died in New York City, as a result of spooking incidents.
“Even though they’re huge, huge animals, they’re very sensitive prey animals,” said Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.
There were no carriages on the popular corner of the Grand Army Plaza during the protest. The animals are sent back to the stables if the temperature reaches above 90 degrees. According to Mickey Kramer, a member of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, the horses travel back in traffic to warehouses a mile and a half away on a daily basis.