It’s Time to End Philly’s Horse-and-Carriage Rides

Even New York knows that it’s a cruel, dirty, outdated business.

It’s not every day that New York looks around and says, “This place is too crowded, too dirty, too rough to deliver an acceptable quality of life.”

But next week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is slated to introduce legislation that would phase out the city’s horse-drawn carriage rides, a popular tourist attraction that’s significantly less popular with animal-rights activists (as well as any sentient person who has spent more than 15 minutes in modern-day city).

“We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period,” de Blasio told the New York Post shortly after being elected. “There are some moving parts to work out. But we are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape. … They are not humane, they are not appropriate for the year 2014. It’s over. So, just watch us do it.”

His reasoning is the obvious: Congested city traffic is no place for a horse, as evidenced by high-profile, gruesome accidents in both New York and Philadelphia. Animal advocacy groups point to abuse by handlers, unsatisfactory boarding conditions and a questionable retirement package.

At least one Philadelphia company addresses these welfare concerns, assuring customers that their horses can comfortably pull the weight, are well-fed by conscientious drivers and will eventually spend their golden years at a farm or sanctuary.

To which I have to say, so what? Even if this is true — even if these animals are fed macarons by Taylor Swift before calling it a night at the Four Seasons — the fact remains that they spend their days hauling our fat asses through our fat-ass traffic.

I’m no expert on horses, but I do have an advanced degree in Philadelphia Awfulness, and here’s the thing: We are the worst of the worst behind the wheel.

We hate anything that dares to move slower than us as we careen through the streets with one hand on a bagel and the other on a phone. We are prone to threatening and occasionally killing fellow humans for even perceived offenses on the road. We’re so stressed out afterwards that we can’t park like people who deserve nice things.

Commuting in this inhospitable mess is so unappealing that we have constructed gigantic, climate-controlled cages equipped with sophisticated stereo systems, DVD players and soothing navigation robots to make the experience almost tolerable. (Sorry, horses — hope those, um, blinders do the trick?)

But you know this. All Philadelphians know this. So why, in 2014, are horses pulling up next to Explorers at traffic lights?

The same reason We The People usually violate rights and act unjustly: Money.

As long as we continue to pay for carriage rides, Philadelphia will continue to put horses in danger. Because we don’t have a de Blasio – we have lawmakers who look to expand the horse-and-carriage industry at the first inkling of more tourism dollars.

Tempted to hop on next time you’re in Old City? Let’s talk through this first.

But it’s so quaint!
You don’t get to cherry-pick the one quaint thing from 18th-century Philadelphia while enjoying indoor plumbing, Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos and other modern luxuries. Live in the now, friends. Live in the now.

It’s a great way to take in the sights.
Better than a cab? Yes. But better than walking? No. It’s easy: You put one unsightly Reebok in front of the other unsightly Reebok, propelling yourself forward by your own power. From one lazy, out-of-shape American to another, this won’t hurt — promise.

But the kids
Stop it. Just stop it right now.

But my date –
Trust me, she’d prefer Uber.

The industry employs people, and outlawing it will cost jobs.
Have you been talking to Team Fracking again? Economic growth is not an acceptable reason to inflict pain and suffering on the vulnerable. For other examples, see Human History, All Of It.

Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter.