New York’s horse-drawn carriage business might come to an end

White horse pulls carriage, New York's horse-drawn carriage business might come to an end
A horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, New York, United States, credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

“Manhattan is probably the worst place in the world to have a horse work, in traffic, in noise, with pollution, in terrible heat and terrible conditions,” said council member Robert Holden, who has introduced a bill to replace the horse-drawn carriages in New York with e-carriages by June 2024.

New York’s horse-drawn carriages have operated since the 1800s, but since roads have become so much busier since then, lawmakers now want to replace them with electric vehicles.

For years, animal rights advocates have fought to protect the lives of around 200 horses used for tourist carriage rides in the city. Last month, a horse collapsed on the busy Ninth Avenue and a video of the driver shouting at the animal to get up sparked online anger.

The New York horses live in cramped conditions, are often dehydrated and malnourished, get scared by traffic, and are worked against their will, animal rights advocates said. “They’re literally treated as machines, and they’re not machines,” Edita Birnkrant, executive director of anti-horse carriage group NYCLASS, said. “This shouldn’t be happening in modern-day New York City.”

Supermodel Bella Hadid urged lawmakers to pass Holden’s legislation, calling the tourist rides “barbaric.” Holden’s bill needs 26 votes to be adopted. Passing the law will be tricky though, with the horse carriage drivers backed by the city’s powerful transport workers union.

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