A meeting of the Tourism Commission will be held Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at 5:00 p.m., virtually via Zoom Webinar. Use the following link for online access: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83195964056?pwd=dUw1NVI2QnFyYUozS1NKRHArd3RzUT09
To access via phone, dial 1 312 626 6799. When prompted, enter meeting 831 9596 4056. When prompted enter the passcode 317157. Call (843) 579-6424 if you are experiencing technical difficulties. The meeting will be recorded.
Sign-up to speak or leave comments for the Tourism Commission by completing the form a http://innovate.charleston-sc.gov/comments/
The recent Tourism sub-committee meetings to discuss the Citizen Carriage Safety ordinance were met with hostility by the Industry and Tourism sub-committees seemingly unprepared except to say “no”. While we understand that the majority of Tourism Commission members are involved in one way or another in the tourism industry in Charleston and as such are protective of the Industry, the City has an important duty to regulate any industry operating on public rights of way and especially one where there are multiple safety issues. Why a City ordinance? It is important that 1) every member of the industry adhere to the same requirements, 2) city officials have a mechanism to ensure compliance, and 3) in the event an accident occurs, the city is equipped with industry standards that are uniform and allows for appropriate emergency care and corrective action where necessary.
While we realize that the Industry wishes the public and elected officials to focus on how well they care for their horses in their barns and how nice they are to the public, these are not safety issues. This ordinance addresses only safety issues. Seeing horses in barns and talking with nice people at those barns can be a pleasant experience but it does nothing to provide safety for the public on city streets.
Since 2016 according to City records there have been over 120 carriage-related incidents (the most recent one just occurred Saturday, June 19 2021)https://www.live5news.com/2021/06/19/2-hospitalized-hit-and-run-between-horse-carriage-semi-truck/
Media reports explain that the industry gives approximately 40,000 tours per year, for a four-year incident rate of approximately 1 in 20,000. That seems like a low risk at first glance. But it is a shockingly high risk on a per-trip basis. For the sake of comparison the BCDCOG 2006-2015 study found that Broad Street sees, on average, 11,000 vehicles per day, every day of the year. At an incident rate of 1 in 20,000, the industry’s track record is equivalent to a vehicle randomly careening down Broad Street every two days. If we considered all vehicular traffic south of Calhoun, the risk would be even greater, as it would if we considered risk on a per-mile basis among different methods of transportation. Surely if that were happening, city leadership would take immediate steps to address the public safety risk. And if the city did nothing, the electorate would demand it.
For your edification, we are including reports obtained through Freedom of Information Act from the City of Charleston on carriage-related incidents/accidents since 2016.
These incidents include bodily injury, injuries of children and animals and property damage. It is our understanding that according to City policy, the police are NOT required to be called to the scene of a carriage-related accident/incident. No witnesses are required to give a statement of what they saw. Please be aware that these reports are often filled out by barn managers who are typically not present at the time of the incident/accident or are filled out by drivers of the wagon.
Should you wish to see the reports in their entirety we are happy to provide them to you or you can obtain them from the City of Charleston.
While the compromise Citizen Safety Ordinance proposal offered by the City is less than ideal, it addresses some basic issues. It was clear during the sub-committee hearings that most members of the sub-committees sought to extinguish any safety ordinance. Removal to the extent that the sub-committees did so renders the ordinance a poverty of safety provisions for carriage wagons on public streets and sets the City up for litigation and a blight on the image of Charleston when the inevitable carnage occurs. Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates supports the City version of the ordinance in its original form without the Tourism Sub-committee deletions.
Our concerns are for children’s safety first and that includes driver training. We believe that the public has the right to have confidence that drivers of carriage wagons be drug free when handling prey animals on urban streets. We hope that the following provisions are reinstated:
· * Having “guard rails” of adults on the wagons at each end of the bench and at the back provides the very basic safety for children possibly crawling/falling out. Dismissing that provision removes any sort of safety provision for children on wagons and will surely be seized upon when lawsuits stemming from bodily injury of a child occur.
· *While The City states that it cannot conduct random drug testing of employees, the City can require that any company that receives a license to operate in the City of Charleston maintain a policy that requires random drug testing before, during employment and after any carriage-related incident.
· *The City should not rely on a standard that is not available to the public. Codifying “CONA Guidelines”, an acronym for the trade organization of the carriage Industry without delineating what that means (No person can view CONA guidelines unless they are a member of CONA ) is not the norm in drafting laws. The liability of using guidelines only available to carriage trade members should be concerning to the legal staff and those who are responsible for the safety of the citizens and the public in Charleston.
· *Every operator make a report to the city upon adding animals to their herd that includes the animal’s name, microchip number, prior owner, and whether the animal has any prior experience working in Charleston and urban environments. It is literally just a reporting requirement. And the key here is to make these reports available to the public, so that residents and visitors have a minimum degree of transparency about whether the animals they encounter are brand new to the city’s streets (and presumably more likely to freight) or have a decade+ working in Charleston.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Please visit our website for more information: www.charlesoncarriagehorseadvocates.com