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CARRIAGE HORSES
Letters & Editorials

Spare the Horses

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
November 16, 1993

To see a carriage horse marooned in New York City traffic is to see a
19th-century artifact cruelly transported into a 20th-century nightmare.

Sometimes the nightmare is fatal, or very nearly so. During the last
decade carriage horses have collapsed from heat exhaustion, stomach
cramps and leg cramps, and several have bolted. One was forced into an
intersection by a speeding limousine, broke a leg and had to be destroyed.

Without very strong regulation, this industry has little to recommend it.

It provides jobs for only a handful of people, and can snarl traffic and
sentence horses to years of hard labor among buses, cars, honking horns
and noisome exhausts.

That's why the City Council in 1989 wisely voted to put the horses out to pasture,
so to speak, by passing Local Law 89, which restricts the times and areas in which the carriages may operate.

Last year Mayor David Dinkins gave further valuable support to the law by
vetoing a Council bill that would have weakened those restrictions. And
surely those tourists for whom a ride in a horse-drawn carriage is a
vital part of a holiday in New York would agree that a peaceful trip
through Central Park is far more pleasant than a noisy stop-and-start
down Fifth Avenue.

Today, however, Councilman Noach Dear will introduce a bill that increases
the animals' workweek from 56 to 70 hours, abolishes most of the safety and humane provisions of Local Law 89 -- and returns horse-drawn carriages once
more to heavy traffic.

Imagine them in Central Park during rush hours, at Madison Square Garden, on West 57th Street and skirting the theater district in the evening -- all of which Mr. Dear's bill allows -- and you are imagining the same sad scenarios that tortured
New Yorkers just a few years ago.

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone has pushed through an extension for
Local Law 89, which was to expire this month, until the end of the year.
That would give those on both sides of the argument, he says, time to
study the law and see how it can be improved. Mr. Dear's initiative is
clearly not an improvement.

All New Yorkers who have winced at the sight of a carriage horse trembling
in traffic will wish a quick death for this unwelcome bill.

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