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Holden rails against city council for failing to pass horse carriage ban

Dec. 6, 2023 By Dean Moses

City Council legislation designed to outlaw the horse carriage industry in New York City has failed to garner support after more than a year of advocacy and a slew of infamous incidents, prompting on Wednesday heavy criticism from the bill’s sponsors and equine advocates.

The legislation sought to replace the decades-old carriage industry — whose critics charge is antiquated and rife with abuses that exploit and even kill horses — with electric antique vehicles to chauffeur New Yorkers and tourists around Central Park and other Manhattan hotspots. 

Queens City Council Member Robert Holden lambasted those colleagues on Dec. 6 who declined to sign onto the bill.

“How could the other council members sleep at night with what is going on!?” Holden asked at a City Hall Park rally surrounded by animal activists. “These poor animals.”

This admonishment comes as horse carriage driver Ian McKeever is facing animal abuse charges for the infamous Midtown collapse of workhorse Ryder in April 2022, in addition to yet another incident that saw a horse, 15-year-old Gunner, break free from its reins in Hell’s Kitchen last month, colliding with several cars on the West Side Highway.

Since Ryder’s now famous collapse, council members Holden and Erik Botcher have been championing legislation that would outlaw horse carriages and replace them with electric ones. Holden argues that the shift would benefit both the animals and the drivers since the promised machines would be able to run year-round and in any temperature. Photo by Dean Moses

Since Ryder’s now famous collapse, council members Holden and Erik Botcher have been championing legislation that would outlaw horse carriages and replace them with electric carriages. Holden argues that the shift would benefit both the animals and the drivers since the promised machines would be able to run year-round and in any temperature. Photo by Dean Moses

Since Ryder’s now infamous collapse, Council Members Holden and Erik Bottcher of Manhattan have been championing legislation that would outlaw horse carriages and replace them with electric carriages. Holden argues that the shift would benefit both the animals and the drivers since the promised machines would be able to run year-round and in any temperature.

However, despite the prolonged call from animal rights advocates and prodding from both Holden and Botcher, fellow council members have failed to follow suit and support the bill dubbed Ryder’s Law. This earned condemnation from Holden as he criticized his peers outside of City Hall.

“Why a hearing is not held is a big question. And it’s really a shame on the council,” Holden said. “I think we have nineteen co-sponsors, that’s a disgrace. We should have the majority of the City Council.” Photo by Dean Moses

“Why a hearing is not held is a big question. And it’s really a shame on the Council,” Holden said. “I think we have 19 co-sponsors, that’s a disgrace. We should have the majority of the City Council.”

Bottcher likewise told amNewYork Metro that the pair have had trouble convincing their colleagues and asked the public to inundate their elected officials with requests.

Bottcher likewise told amNewYork that the pair have had trouble convincing their colleagues and asked the public to inundate their elected officials with requests. Photo by Dean Moses

“We need a healthy majority of council members to sign on. Council members need to continue hearing from their constituents in their districts about it. The organized labor advocacy has been very strong against the legislation. We need to overwhelm that with numbers of constituents,” Bottcher said.

Holden also accused the horse carriage industry of putting profits over the welfare of the animals.

amNewYork Metro reached out to Transport Workers Union Local 100 for comment and is awaiting a response.

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