New York Daily News
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
By Lisa L. Colangelo ? Daily News City Hall Bureau
The last time animal advocates tried to ban horse-drawn carriages
outside of Central Park, they were flat-out ignored by the City Council.
That was six years ago. Now, Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens) thinks
the time might be ripe for a compromise.
This week Avella is introducing a bill that would restrict the horses
and their carriages to Central Park.
"Carriage horses and carriage rides are an integral part of New York
City nightlife," said Avella. "Once they go outside of Central Park, you
create a serious safety hazard."
Avella said he was approached about tighter restrictions on horse-drawn
carriages when he first took office in 2002. But he was moved to act after
the horrific car accident in January that left a carriage driver gravely
injured and a horse dead.
There's no shortage of opinions on the issue. The ASPCA agrees the
carriages should only operate in the park, while owners have said that
would hurt business.
Meanwhile, some animal advocates have said horse-drawn carriages should
be banned in the city, while Mayor Bloomberg has said that's too extreme.
"What I'm trying to do is restore balance to the situation," Avella
Current law allows the carriages to travel on streets contiguous to
Central Park until 9 p.m. Those restrictions loosen up during some evening
hours, on weekends and during some holidays.
Avella said he was surprised to learn a previous law that restricted
carriage horses to Central Park was allowed to expire in 1993.
In 2000, the ASPCA and actress Mary Tyler Moore embarked on an
aggressive campaign to bring those restrictions back, but were unable to
find even one Council member to introduce a bill.
Edita Birnkrant of the
Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages said it's dangerous to have
horses share streets with cars, no matter what time it is.
"It's such a ludicrous sight to see these carriage horses in midtown
traffic, it doesn't belong in this century anymore," she said. "Tourism
will be just fine if we get rid of the carriages."
Birnkrant also pointed out that the horses will still have to travel
twice a day through streets to get to their stables on the far West Side.
"That's where the majority of the accidents happen," she said.
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