There have been periodic horse injuries among those who take carriages around Central Park. Occasionally, a spooked horse has caused commotion around them as well. Finally, there are new rules regulating them that will automatically take effect February 15, 2019,
Mayor de Blasio is still making them take it on the hoof.
The latest changes to city rules dictating where horse-drawn carriages can pick up riders — changes announced Friday — still mean hacks won’t be able to make pick-ups outside the park along 59th St.
Instead of being forced to board passengers on 72nd St. on the east and west sides of the park — an option floated in August that drivers complained would force them into more traffic — the city will permit pick-ups inside the park at only three locations: north of Grand Army Plaza, north of the park’s Seventh Ave. entrance and north of its Sixth Ave. entrance.
“It makes no difference,” said Robert Boyle, a carriage driver who’s been in the business for more than three decades. “Taking away spots where we’ve been standing for 160 years — they can’t give us an example of how we’re better off.”
The city released its latest changes to the new rules Friday. Under proposed changes made public in August, the city had planned to allow pick-ups at five spots: the two 72nd Street locations, Grand Army Plaza, near Tavern on the Green and north of the Seventh Ave. entrance.
“The overall footage of hack stand space is the same,” a city Transportation Department spokesman said.
The new rules, which were published in the City Record, are set to go into effect Feb. 15.
“It’s better, but it’s still extremely disappointing,” said carriage driver Christina Hansen.
“This is a capitulation to cars and buses over the needs of carriages, pedestrians, bicyclists, pedicabs — everybody else that uses 59th Street.”
Animal rights groups, like New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, disagreed and hailed the changes as a win.
“Central Park is much cooler than 59th Street, and now that it’s car-free, it’s significantly safer for the horses,” said NYCLASS spokesman Chris Coffey, referring to a recent ban on cars in the park.
But Boyle argued the move is really a capitulation to NYCLASS, which lobbied hard for an outright ban on carriages on city streets and donated generously to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral bid. In 2016, the group was subpoenaed by the FBI as part of probe into the mayor’s fund-raising operations.
“He’s trying to give them something back,” Boyle said.
After being elected in 2013, de Blasio promised he would enact a ban on horse-drawn carriages on “day one” of his new administration, but faltered when the City Council rejected his proposal in 2016.
The rules made public Friday are being implemented administratively without Council approval.