The City passed a sham Carriage-Industry ordinance and tossed our Comprehensive Safety Ordinance. Here is our model ordinance. We plan to keep working on the City to act responsibly for the safety of children, citizens and animals.

citizens holding posters speaking out against horse cruelty

The carriage wagon Industry knows that theirs is a tourist attraction that needs regulation. We agree. They have rushed to “tweak” the existing ordinance with an unhitching couple of sentences.

Over 140+ documented carriage-related Safety Incidents and Accidents have occurred since 2016. This includes 12 runaway carriages/wagons. Let’s put this in perspective; if in the past four years commercial trucks lost control TWELVE times on Charleston city streets, would that be okay?

The first responsibility of elected officials is to insure the safety of its citizens. We are encouraged that members of City Council are willing to take a stand for safety. The Citizen Carriage Safety ordinance includes common sense safety measures like drug and alcohol testing of drivers and employees, just like other businesses require where employees interact with the public. Child safety issues are addressed. Two drivers on each wagon is a common sense proposal, so that one faces forward, concentrating on traffic, while the other gives the tour.

Nicholas G. Green Esquire, Partner, Orrick Law Firm NY NY. Representing Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates at the July 28th, 2021, Tourism Commission meeting.

He was never allowed to make these remarks as the Tourism Commission members shut off his mic.

Comment to Tourism Commission

It’s a pleasure to appear before you again on behalf of my pro bono client, Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates. My name is Nicholas Green, I’m a partner in the law firm of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, and a proud Wraggborough resident.

I took on this matter on behalf of CCHA for two reasons. The first is that I believe in free speech and assembly — and especially, the right to petition government for change. The second is that I believe regulation of this industry is desperately needed for the benefit of our visitors, residents, and yes, even my three young children who walk on sidewalks adjacent to carriages everyday as we go about our lives.

The simple fact is that the regulatory process for this industry is broken. Maybe hopelessly so. We don’t impose meaningful regulation before accidents happen. We don’t impose meaningful regulation after accidents happen. We don’t do anything; we pretend as though simple, common sense safety proposals would inordinately impact these businesses — when, in fact, the current state of affairs creates tremendous risks for the Charleston brand, prevents operators from enjoying a level playing field with each other and other tourism industry participants, and I fear underscores a lack of leadership at all levels of city government.

Just this week, we had an accident that involves injuries to a driver and passenger, transporting both to the hospital. A driver from another company apparently abandoning his or her carriage to tame a spooked horse. And a potential for a far greater accident. Yet, I suspect this commission will make no meaningful proposals to council.

Here’s the deal. We proposed a comprehensive ordinance. I believed and continue to believe it would benefit everyone to enact our ordinance. City staff and counsel spent a lot of time, to their credit, going through our proposal. And they came up with their own proposal — one that they felt as the regulators balanced safety with enforcement priorities.

And over and over, the subcommittees of this commission rejected even the city’s bare-minimum proposal. I urge you today: recommend the Livability Department’s proposed ordinance to city counsel for adoption. That is literally the least we should do. If we do not, we are sending a clear message that our regulatory approach to this industry is to impose no real regulations at all.

Or, if you are uncomfortable making policy decisions, here’s a thought: tell city council that this is their call. Choose to take no action, and defer to the will of our elected leaders to debate these important issues in an appropriate process that involves debate among them, proposed amendments, instead of the “process” I’ve seen play out in several meetings of this commission.

I welcome your questions. And I look forward to working with our elected leadership on this important issue.


Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates Proposes Citizens Safety Ordinance

Proposal calls for minimum safety standards and driver requirements to protect passengers, residents, and animals

Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates has repeatedly voiced concerns about the dangers of wagonloads of tourists being carted around Charleston by horses and mules on congested streets.

Two weeks ago, a half-hitched runaway horse careened through Ansonborough neighborhood. Fortunately, children, parents and neighbors were able to avoid the horse and half-hitched wagon. The horse was not so lucky. He was euthanized later that evening. The carriage industry now agrees that city council should change the law to prevent these types of incidents. Indeed, Charleston CARES has called for city council to amend the governing ordinance to ensure operators have adequately safety protocols. We agree.

But the industry has proposed only a minor change that does not go far enough to protect passengers, residents, or animals. The industry has spent years telling us that they can self-regulate. They have told us that carriages are safe on city streets. But if the industry cannot safely hitch and unhitch animals, can we trust them to protect the public?

Over 120+ documented safety incidents have occurred since 2016, including 12 runaway carriages. People have been hurt. And people will continue be hurt as long these wagons are operating on Charleston’s congested urban streets. Let’s put this in perspective: If in the last four years commercial trucks lost control twelve times on Charleston city streets, putting lives at risk, would that be acceptable? Of course not.

Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, a neighborhood non-profit, is introducing a Citizen Carriage Safety Ordinance. This ordinance addresses major safety issues that are omitted in the current law. Our proposed safety ordinance details the bare minimum of what residents should expect of an industry that operates on public rights of way. We encourage residents to contact Mayor Tecklenburg and City Council and urge them to adopt the Comprehensive Citizen Safety Ordinance.

Press Inquiries: Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, Inc. // [email protected]

Citizen Carriage Safety Ordinance: Summary

  • Minimum driver training. Require that carriage operators have minimal training in equine safety and management, including handling animals in emergency situations. The public should be able to trust that carriage drivers know how to minimize the risks inherent in working animals in an urban environment.
  • Basic driver history checks. Require that carriage operators undergo basic background and driver’s history checks, including checks for past DUI/DWI violations or convictions for mistreatment of animals. There’s no reason for the city to allow operators who may have past histories of endangering the public or animals.
  • Driver drug and alcohol screening. Require pre-employment and routine drug and alcohol testing, matching the requirements that apply to any commercial vehicle driver in Charleston.
  • Independent safety inspections of carriages. Require independent engineer inspections of carriages at least once per year to ensure minimum safety requirements are met.
  • Common-sense carriage safety devices. Enact common-sense safety requirements for carriages, including:

    • Emergency harness release devices;

    • Making safety belts available to passengers who wish to use them;

    • Ensuring carriages are equipped with ladders and railings for safe boarding and unloading of passengers;

    • Requiring that parents or legal guardians accompany minors, and ensuring that children cannot fall from the rear or sides of carriage; and

    • Emergency braking systems to stop heavy, runaway carriages.

  • Independent safety inspections of carriages. Require independent engineer inspections of carriages at least once per year to ensure minimum safety requirements are met.
  • Ensuring employees can protect the public and passengers. Require two carriage employees on each tour. The hazards of managing an animal, navigating busy streets with traffic and pedestrians, giving a tour, and being able to handle emergencies is too much for one person to do safely.
  • Enhance public transparency. Increase public transparency into carriage operators’ compliance with important safety requirements, including public awareness of how many tours are operating, when, and the animals’ history (or lack of history) working in a hazardous urban environment.
  • Independent veterinarians. Enhance the role for independent veterinarians to oversee compliance with new and existing safety requirements.
  • Fire and health requirements. Mandate minimum fire and health protection plans and inspections to be conducted at the barns by appropriate local and county agencies.

Community Endorsements: