How safe is that romantic horse-drawn carriage anyway?

Last night, as I drove through downtown Cincinnati to take in the lights at Fountain Square, I passed several horse drawn carriages. Admittedly, they looked festive and romantic. I imagine that they are quite the tourist draw. Downtown Columbus has almost nothing going on at night. Cincinnati looks hopping. A horse drawn carriage might pep things up around the State House was my thinking.

Then a few hours later, after I arrived home, I caught a few minutes of a TV show about horse drawn carriages in New York City. They’ve been a fixture around Central Park as long as I can remember. Carriages have been featured in movies and have made it on TV. I’m thinking of that scene where Mr. Big took Carrie to the hospital to help deliver Miranda’s baby in Sex and the City. The horse lopped along transporting its star-crossed lovebirds through traffic. Therein lies the problem.

Everyone featured in the show about the horse-drawn carriages is against the carriages. One emergency medical technician talked about the hazards of trying to get emergency vehicles around them. Others talked about the medical issues horses have as a result of doing their jobs. Disaster stories where horses were hit by cars and died as a result of the accidents peppered the commentary. Also mentioned were the lack of safety features for passengers. There’s nothing holding passengers into the carriages, for example. One quick gallop down a busy avenue and you could be thrown out in no time.

A quick Google Search for info about the issues with horse carriages did turn up articles that address the same concerns covered in the show. As for me, I’m thinking about the cyclo and trishaw drivers in other parts of the world who have similar issues and hazards to their livelihood.

Although, I can see the point of the hazards of the carriages, on the other hand, they employ people and horses (horses need to have some way to get fed). The New York City carriages, according to this article I found, have been around as a business for 137 years. At the time of the article, there were 293 drivers and 220 horses who work in New York City. That’s a lot of carriage rides. I’m wondering about the percentage of accidents and incidents that actually happen. How many people have a lovely ride without any incident vs people who are not so lucky with their I Love New York experience?

If cities didn’t have carriages, I wonder how that would impact the economy of downtowns? Without carriages, downtown Cincinnati at night might look like Columbus. And what would happen to the Hollywood version of romance?