Opposition to Carriage Horse Ban is Growing: Poll

Two horse-drawn carriages are ridden on Central Park West on January 2, 2014.  (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Two horse-drawn carriages are ridden on Central Park West on January 2, 2014. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

New Yorkers are not on board with the mayor’s plan to ban carriage horses.

Some 67 percent of residents polled in new Quinnipiac University poll released today said they do not believe Mayor Bill de Blasio should ban horse-drawn carriages, something he promised to do on “day one” of his administration. Just 22 percent of those polled supported the mayor’s plans to nix the industry.

“New Yorkers are more opposed than ever to that issue that City Hall seems to care a lot about—banning horse-drawn carriages,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.

The university’s polling has consistently shown opposition to the ban, but this particular survey found the opposition to be higher than ever, up from 63 percent last month. Among every demographic group of people polled, at least 59 percent were opposed to the ban.

After nearly a year in office, legislation drafted by the mayor’s office to ban the industry—which animal rights activists argue is inhumane—was introduced into the City Council this month. But it remains to be seen whether the mayor will be able to follow all the way through on his campaign promise: many council members are undecided and some are opposed the bill. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has yet to take a position on the legislation, though she is supportive of banning the industry.

The ban has placed Mr. de Blasio in a tough spot. It is heartily supported by animal rights groups like NYCLASS, which advertised heavily against Mr. de Blasio’s primary opponent Christine Quinn. But it is strongly opposed by typical allies of the mayor: organized labor and the Working Families Party, which have derided the ban because it would eliminate 300 union jobs for drivers, who are represented by the Teamsters.

“Thank you New York! Support for the working men and women of Central Park’s carriage industry continues to grow and grow,” George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, said in a statement. “The thousands that have been spent attacking these working people haven’t made a dent in the support from our neighbors. They know the truth. New Yorkers have already rejected this ban and if City Council Members listen to their constituents, they will reject this ban too.”

But NYCLASS compared the polling numbers to the early unpopularity of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on smoking in restaurants.

“The restaurant and bar smoking ban was also unpopular at the time. People were up in hysterics, claiming that no one would ever socialize in public again,” NYCLASS spokeswoman Allie Feldman said in a statement. “But 10 years later, it’s considered one of the most successful public health initiatives in our city’s history, while the bar and restaurant industry continues to thrive. When the carriage horses are off the streets, we’ll look back at the absurdity of having animals pulling rickety 18th century carts in the middle of Manhattan traffic and say ‘What were people thinking?'”

The poll was conducted from December 10 to December 16, and surveyed 1,374 city voters. The margin of error is 2.6 percentage points.

This story was updated to include comment from NYCLASS.