Deal may keep horse-drawn carriages in New York

Story highlights

  • A proposed deal would restrict horse-drawn carriages to New York's Central Park
  • The deal still needs to be approved by the city council

(CNN)Looks like horse-drawn carriages may remain in New York after all, but only in Central Park.

That's the result of a deal announced Sunday between New York City and the horse carriage industry.
The proposed deal, which still must be approved by the city council, restricts operation of horse-drawn carriages to just Central Park by June 1.
The number of licensed horses would drop from 180 to 110 by the end of the year. A stable for the horses would be constructed in Central Park by 2018. The deal also places some restrictions on the operation of pedicabs in the southern portions of the park.
A joint statement from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, union leaders and carriage driver Stephen Malone hailed the agreement.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement in concept on the future of New York's horse carriage industry," the statement said. "We look forward to working together on the final details of this legislation and getting this passed."
The carriages' fate on the streets of New York had been in doubt since de Blasio took office two years ago. De Blasio, cheered on by animal rights activists, promised to ban horse-drawn carriages -- a popular tourist attraction -- during his campaign. At the time, de Blasio said the practice was inhumane, a sentiment shared by NYCLASS, an animal rights group.
"Horses do not belong in a congested, urban setting," NYCLASS states on its website. "They constantly breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic ... confined to the shafts of their carriage and their tiny stable stalls, with no access to green pastures."
Malone, a horse-carriage driver since 1987, has disputed these claims, saying the "horses lead exceedingly great lives here" and that they are not overworked, with all horses getting at least five weeks of vacation time.
De Blasio had proposed replacing the carriages with electric antique cars driven by the same carriage drivers.
Horse-drawn carriages are a popular tourist attraction, not just in New York, but in other American cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Boston and Charleston, South Carolina, according to Malone.