Horse Drawn Carriages
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Horse Drawn Carriages


April 13, 2008

Carriage horses could soon go the way of the Model T - literally. A coalition of animal-rights and business activists are pitching city politicians a plan to replace Central Park's horse and buggies with "green" replicas of the Ford Model T and other antique cars. "It is an idea that has been brought to my attention, and I think it has merit," said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens), one of several city legislators who have been approached. "It would have the character to make it a tourist attraction." Backers of the plan have long argued that using horses to pull carriages is cruel and should be banned. This plan, developed by animal activist Jill Weitz, would keep the "touring" business in and around the park but let the animals off the hook. Details are still being worked out, but the idea is to have the city issue classic-car permits in the place of horse-and-carriage permits, known as medallions.

"We believe it would be financially beneficial for the owners and the drivers," said Steve Nislick, the owner of Manhattan Mini Storage and Edison ParkFast, who said he is working on the project as a "horse lover." "The horses will be off the road, but tourists will still have an option for a romantic ride," he said. Nislick said the coalition is meeting with companies that make classic cars energy efficient. "That will be available soon," he said. One option would be the classic replicas that run on propane and hydrogen currently shuttling tourists around San Francisco. But Nislick said the coalition would prefer electric cars with zero emissions - technology that may not be available until 2010. "It would pretty much be up to the city what type of car and what models will be used," he said. The Horse and Carriage Association of New York vehemently opposes the plan. Spokeswoman Carolyn Daly said carriage rides are "all about the horses" and the change would hit "profits significantly." "No one wants to replace clip-clop, clip-clop with chitty chitty bang bang," she said.

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