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Letters & Editorials

Horse Sense

January 10, 1994

"We have free roam of the city, like we had since 1625 up until 1989," a
carriage horse driver exulted to a Times reporter earlier this month.

What he and his fellow drivers had been freed from was a law that
recognized that this is not the New York of 1625 and that carriage horses
don't belong on the clogged and clamorous streets.

Local Law 89 sharply limited the hours when the carriages could operate
and the areas in which they could travel. It was approved with great
enthusiasm by the City Council in 1989.

A few years later the Council had a mysterious change of heart and voted to weaken those restrictions. But Mayor Dinkins wisely vetoed the measure.

Last month the City Council once again passed a bill that would lengthen
the horses' work hours, expand the midtown areas where they could cruise
-- and benefit absolutely no one but the 396 members, some of them part
time, of a very small industry. Again Mr. Dinkins vetoed the bill.

A few days later Local Law 89 expired, which means that New York now has
no law regulating the carriage horse business. Council members say they
plan to re-approve and submit to the city's new Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani,
the same bill Mr. Dinkins twice vetoed.

Mr. Giuliani will do a favor for every New Yorker who has winced at the
spectacle of a carriage horse shivering in traffic if he follows his
predecessor's good example. Even better, the City Council can renew Local
Law 89, with its sensible and humane provisions.

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