Death of an anachronism: Horse carts banned from Romanian roadways

There is nothing more bucolic when traveling in far off lands than to share the roadway with a horse and cart. When I first came across this scene somewhere in Romania in the early 1990s, it was as though I had traveled back in time. I had no idea that people in Europe still traveled in such a style in the 20th century.

Truth be told, they still do today–but at least not in Romania anymore. A new law prohibits horses and carts from the country’s main arteries. The reason is that they are responsible for 10% of the nation’s auto accidents.

I witnessed this firsthand when I was hitchhiking through Romania in 1991. A Hungarian family that picked me up had hit a horse just a few miles earlier. They would hit another one a week later when leaving the country.

The problem with the new law, however, is that the horse and cart are still a primary form of transport for the country folk who live outside of the larger cities. In fact, for many Romanians it’s their only form of transport. That explains why there are 740,000 horse carts registered in Romania according to a recent BBC article.

While such a law will certainly decrease the amount of accidents on the road, it’s going to make life a whole lot harder for the struggling populace. And, more selfishly from a travel perspective, I will be sad to see the anachronistic horse-cart-and-Mercedes spectacle disappear from the roadways of Romania.

Related: My Bloody Romania

(Photo by cashewnuts via Flickr)