A Philadelphia animal rights group is protesting City Councilman Mark Squilla's proposal to extend the working hours of horse-drawn carriages, claiming the expansion is a safety hazard to both horses and carriage operators, as well as motorists and pedestrians.
"The Philadelphia community overwhelmingly supports legislation that would stop the use of horse-drawn carriages on our congested city streets, but instead you are proposing to force the horses to work longer during the most dangerous and heavily congested hours of the day," Peace Advocacy Network legislative director Brandon Gittelman wrote Saturday in a letter to Squilla.
"Adding more carriages to the crowded roadways mixed with cars, taxis, bikers, SEPTA and emergency vehicles is a recipe for disaster. The carriages block the flow of traffic, impede emergency vehicles and increase the likelihood of an accident."
Squilla introduced legislation during City Council last Thursday that would create a pilot program expanding Philadelphia's horse-drawn carriage hours during the spring and summer months, allowing tours to be held between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to satisfy increased seasonal demand from out-of-town tourists.
Currently, no carriage is permitted on Philadelphia streets during the summer Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. or after 10:30 p.m.
Activists with the Peace Advocacy Network are asking that Squilla not only rescind his proposal, but join them in supporting an all-out ban on the horse-drawn carriage industry.
The group has been advocating for the stoppage for three years and has prepared draft legislation that would bar horse-drawn carriages, provide for the horses to go to sanctuaries and encourage the employment of carriage operators in other tourist positions.
"The horse-drawn carriage industry is a dangerous and harmful practice that puts tourists, residents, drivers, and horses at imminent risk of serious injuries." Gittelman said.
The Peace Advocacy Network will on Sunday, May 26 hold a peaceful protest from noon to 2 p.m. on 6th Street between Market and Chestnut streets, near the horse-drawn carriage lineup.