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Horse Carriages Involved in 25 Accidents Since 2009, NYPD Reports Show

By Jeff Mays | October 29, 2014 4:28pm
 Horse carriages have been involved in at least 25 accidents over the last five years, including 14 alleged hit and runs, animal advocates who are pushing to ban the vehicles from city streets, said Wednesday.
Horse Carriages Involved in 25 Accidents, Say Advocates
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CITY HALL — Carriage horses have been involved in at least 25 accidents over the last five years, including 14 reports of hit-and-runs, according to animal advocates who obtained crash records from the NYPD.

Representatives from NYCLASS and the Animal Legal Defense Fund — who sued the NYPD to acquire the data — cited the accidents in their push to ban the carriages as a form of animal cruelty during a rally on the steps of City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

"There is no number of carriage horse accidents that are acceptable," said Allie Feldman, executive director of NYCLASS. "There's no reason in 2014 we should see horses get hit by taxis."

Horse Carriage NYPD Accident Police Reports #1

All of the accidents occurred in the area around Central Park, according to the data. In one accident on Oct. 21, 2009, the driver of a car claimed that a horse hit his vehicle at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Central Park South. While the driver was trying to round up witnesses to the accident, he claims the carriage driver, who had a brown horse, blue carriage and a mustache, fled the scene.

On Jan. 5, 2010, a police report said a horse carriage was hit by a taxi at 60th Street and Columbus Avenue, sending the driver flying from the carriage. He was found "laying" in the street "not moving."

The horse pulling the carriage got loose and bolted down 59th Street, hitting two parked yellow cabs and possibly breaking its legs, according to the report.

Other incidents involved a child riding in a horse carriage on Nov. 23, 2009 who fell out and was "rolled over" by the wheel of the carriage. The child suffered stomach, chest and head injuries, according to the report.

The results of the cases were not immediately clear.

Horse Carriage NYPD Accident Reports #2

"Keeping carriage horses on the streets of New York isn't safe for anybody," said Chris Green, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The information comes in the wake of an incident last week where a carriage horse broke free from its owner and trotted down several blocks in Hell's Kitchen with police cars in pursuit. The horse was unharmed, according to its owner.

Teamsters Local 553, the union representing horse carriage drivers, and the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, which advocates on behalf of carriage drivers, questioned the records.

"Of the thousands of calls the NYPD responds to each year only a couple dozen have anything to do with the horse carriage industry," said Christina Hansen, a carriage driver and spokeswoman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, who also examined the data.

During the five-year period in question, the horse carriages made 250,000 trips to and from Central Park and gave 1.5 million carriage rides, she said. Carriage horse accidents represent only a small number of overall vehicular accidents, the group said.

Hansen said she believes that the 14 hit-and-run incidents are just accusations and added that no drivers were charged in connection to the incidents.

"Most collisions resulted in very minor property damage, if any," she said.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the incidents.

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to ban the horses during his first day in office. However, legislation from the City Council has not been forthcoming.

"We will introduce legislation. We will remove the carriage horses," Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who is chairman of the council's transportation committee, said Wednesday.

But when pressed by reporters about why he has not introduced his legislation, Rodriguez declined to comment.

"I have nothing to say," he said.