Horse and carriage rides through Central Park may soon be a thing of the past as both candidates in the upcoming mayoral election are in favor of banning them. Republican candidate Joe Lhota would choose to ban them because of the "unfortunate" smell in and around Central Park and is considering some kind of motorized replacement. Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio believes keeping the carriage horses in a densely packed urban area is an act of animal cruelty and favors a plan to replace the 155 year old industry with electric replicas of an old car, the 1909 Pierce-Arrow, a prototype of which one New York City group has already commissioned for $450,000. Three horses have died in accidents in the last three decades and figures vary on how many horses have been involved in accidents. De Blasio has taken a strong stance on this issue despite his support by the Teamsters Union, which is in favor of the industry and will fight to save the jobs of the drivers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a consistent supporter of the industry during his 12 years in office, recognizing the industry as a city-regulated tourist draw.
New York's Horse and Carriage Association fears a ban on carriage horses, as it will affect 200 drivers, 68 carriages and 210 horses that generate estimated annual revenues of about $15 million. The industry defends itself on the grounds that it is tightly regulated by the city, which conducts regular inspections. Horses work a maximum of nine hours a day and spend a minimum of five weeks a year on a farm. They receive veterinary examinations twice a year, and most rides are limited within the confines of Central Park.
For many drivers and tourists, a ban on the industry would remove a quintessentially romantic New York experience. "That's crazy. I hope it fails," said 56-year-old Mike Moran, an attorney from Los Angeles, as he stepped off a carriage ride with his wife. "New York would loose so much character without the horses."
Ending the industry would require a vote by the City Council.
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