NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The city’s pedicab drivers are upset over a proposal to ban the bike taxis from areas in Central Park south of 85th Street.
The proposal is part of a broader deal to overhaul the park’s popular carriage horse rides, which was approved last week by Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials.
Angry pedicab drivers rallied at City Hall Tuesday to protest the plan.
“This came out of left field. Up until last week there was no mention of pedicabs in any conversation I heard about the proposal to ban carriages in the park,” Richard Costello, a pedicab driver, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
De Blasio’s plan would reduce the number of carriage horses operating in Central Park, and also use public funds to move horses to a refurbished stable within the park. The plan would prohibit horses from city streets beginning June 1 and reduce the number of licensed horses from 180 to 110 by December.
The number of hours per day a carriage may operate will be reduced, and carriages will be able to charge an extra $5 for trips after 6 p.m. between Nov. 15 and Jan. 5, and on Valentine’s Day or Easter.
Park advocates are angry over the proposal’s use of public funds to pay for the stables, which they say is a private enterprise.
But in exchange for slimming down their carriage fleets, the mayor also offered the horsemen an effective monopoly over the southern end of Central Park by barring pedicabs from operating south of 85th Street, where most of the larger tourist attractions are located.
“The promenade, the carousel, the ice skating rink — all of that is in the south end of the park,” Costello said. “And it seems so unfair.”
De Blasio said the stables will be built by 2018, 1010 WINS Juliet Papa reported.
Pedicab owner Robert Tipton called the proposal “outrageous.”
The issue of horses in Central Park has been a long, ongoing debate between the de Blasio administration, the horse carriage industry and animal activists.
Animal rights advocates have been fighting to get the carriages banned entirely and de Blasio had pledged to end the popular carriage rides in favor of electric old-time style cars that would still appeal to tourists.
The City Council must approve the deal and could hold hearings as early as this week.
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