After months of conflict, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to keep Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages off of busy Manhattan streets has cleared its final hurdle, with a New York Supreme Court judge ruling in favor of the city. Beginning Friday, February 15, horse-drawn carriages will only be able to wait for riders inside the park itself, rather than congregating on 5th or 6th Avenues.
“The city asserts that the purpose of this proposed change is to ‘reduce the amount of time that horses spend alongside vehicular traffic,'” wrote Justice Arthur Engoron in the ruling. “This explicit grant of authority to [the Department of Transportation], viewed in connecting with DOT’s stated intent of mitigating the amount of time horses spend mingling with, and presumably impeding traffic, renders its proposed rule beyond judicial reproach or second guessing.”
The policy, originally announced in August of last year, was held up in courts in January after a carriage teamster sued the city, claiming that the issue had to be voted on by City Council first. Now that the plan can go forward, the carriages will have to wait for fares in five designated spots inside Central Park.
Horse-drawn carriage teamsters, represented by the Teamsters union since 2008, opposed the move, as they argue it would hurt their ability to find and draw in riders. Animal rights groups, like New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), celebrated the ruling, arguing that the move will keep horses safer.
“By shifting the hackline locations into the shaded entrances of Central Park, carriage horses will be subjected to less heat and humidity throughout the summer and will no longer have to contend with cars and their exhaust traveling right next to them,” said NYCLASS executive director Edita Birnkrant. “Indeed, with the new hackline locations, horses, pedestrians and motorists will all be in a safer environment with less chance of a crash and horse collapse.”
The Teamsters did not immediately respond to requests for comment.