New York mayor ready to move on carriage trade

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New York's mayor is close to introducing a bill that targets the city's iconic carriage trade. Photo: Ingfbruno/Wikipedia
New York’s mayor is close to introducing a bill that targets the city’s iconic carriage trade. Photo: Ingfbruno/Wikipedia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is said to be close to introducing council legislation that would ban the iconic downtown carriage trade.

De Blasio is expected to introduce a draft bill next week that would phase out the popular tourist carriages by 2016.

Efforts would be made to help the drivers find other work.

De Blasio, who was elected just under a year ago, had pledged during his mayoral campaign to end the trade, saying busy New York streets were no place for horses.

Advocates have campaigned against the trade for many years, citing the busy streets and the risk to horses.

Supporters say the animals are well looked after. They say the industry provides the city with a popular and iconic tourist attraction.

De Blasio has been at the center of a heated debate over the issue since his election.

It is understood the bill will achieve the phase-out by not renewing licenses. It contains provisions around the sale of horses, with a stipulation they not go for slaughter.

The bill is believed to contain provisions that would provide fee-free green-taxi licenses to the carriage drivers – at least for a time.

The bill is unlikely to go to a vote for about six months, while it undergoes city scrutiny, including an environmental review.

There are said to be provisions, too, for expressions of interest for potential alternatives, which would cover proposals including electric replica vintage cars.

The carriage drivers have union backing and can count Hollywood actor Liam Neeson, who has been vocal on the issue, among their supporters.

The group, Friends of Animals, said it was gratified that de Blasio was moving to ban the trade.

Campaign director Edita Birnkrant said: “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 were primed to banish the industry, not just attempt to regulate it, she said.

She said the organization would be happy to help in placing all of the horses in reputable sanctuaries once their working days were over.

“New York City is on the verge of making history by leading the way to become a more humane, progressive city for all by ensuring that a form of animal exploitation — carriage horse rides — will no longer be considered a tourist attraction in the greatest city in the world,” she said.

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