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Letters & Editorials

Help the Horses

February 17, 1994

Every weekday 870,000 vehicles stutter their way through Manhattan
traffic: private cars, taxis, trucks, ambulances, fire engines, buses and
just about everything else on wheels. It is a safe bet their drivers are
not clamoring for an influx of horse-drawn carriages to add to the melee.

Manhattan is chock full of pedestrians, too, all of whom are coping with
the same horrendous traffic and few of whom have ever taken a carriage
ride down Fifth Avenue -- or anywhere else, for that matter. The trip is,
after all, pretty pricey.

Then there are the tourists, for some of whom a carriage ride is part of
a holiday in New York. For the last few years, that carriage ride has
been confined to Central Park -- and a beautiful ride it is, too.

So who are all those people who want to see the carriage horses working
longer hours, cruising a larger swath of the midtown area and carrying
more passengers per trip?

Look beyond the carriage-horse drivers and their good friends on New York's City Council, and it would be hard to find a soul. Chances are, though, that on Feb. 28, when the Council votes on a new bill to regulate the horse-carriage industry, the drivers will get their way.

In 1989 the City Council voted enthusiastically for Local Law 89, which
wisely and humanely limited the hours and areas in which the horses could

Since then, presumably swayed by the cries of drivers whose numbers
increase even as they complain they cannot make a living, the Council
twice tried to weaken the restrictions -- and was twice thwarted by a
veto from Mayor David Dinkins.

Some regulation is, of course, better than none at all -- and none at
all, since Local Law 89 expired last month, is what the carriage-horse
industry has right now. Even so, we hope Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will veto
the watered-down measure he will soon receive.

The drivers and their City Council supporters will not be happy, but we can guarantee the city's gratitude.

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