Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages from Victorian Roads

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On a hot afternoon in mid-February 2018, Melbourne Australia, locals and visitors were forced to again face just one of the many shocking and cruel realities of what it means to use horses as vehicles for so-called 'entertainment'. Two horses used to pull carriages lay helpless and injured on the side of the road, and a trail of blood was evident. Authorities remain ill-equipped as to how to respond appropriately and yet again the concerned public are unable to get solid information as to the injuries sustained and the current state of these poor horses. This is all due to VicRoads and the State Labor Government failing to act and ban horse-drawn carriages from Victorian roads.

In 2018 there remain horses used to pull carriages on the busy roads of Melbourne and surrounds. The risks to human and horse safety have been widely documented by the media and Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages over 4 years. Incidents of horse and human injury, violent and aggressive operators, breaches of local laws and state road safety laws are commonplace, yet the state government continues to refuse to take action!

The situation is so out of control that after the ongoing high volume of complaints (making HDV's the most complained about issue for the City of Melbourne), serious incidents of horse and human injury, and wide public consultation, the City of Melbourne had no other choice but to remove the street-trading permits of the operators effective as of July 1, 2017. The Lord Mayor at the time, Robert Doyle, stating "Horse-drawn vehicles, modern traffic, a busy city, a million people a day — they just don't mix," and admitting the permits introduced several years ago to regulate the industry had been "ineffective".

However, it has been made very clear 8 months on that the removal of the street-trading permits was not enough and VicRoads and the State Government needs to step in.

In the short time that MAHDC have been campaigning against this trade, the horses, and the public has had to witness or directly experience...

- a horse being steered into and smashed in the head by a tram (on at least one occasion that we know of)
- spooked horses bolting through the city completely out of control of the drivers
- drivers being catapulted, injured and rushed to the hospital
- cyclists crashing and being injured due to horses being steered in their direction
- horses intentionally used as weapons against cyclists and pedestrians
- horses collapsed and injured on the street
- the ongoing illegal use of bike lanes forcing cyclists into traffic
- the illegal use of mobile phones whilst operating a carriage
- skittish horses being punched in the head by operators in attempts to move them from the tram tracks in peak hour
- constant illegal u-turns
- constant running of red lights
- the illegal travel through tram super-stops

and now since the street-trading permits and prime position parking zones have been removed

- the illegal street-trading and illegal parking of carriage operators all day every day throughout the CBD and surrounds.

It couldn't be made clearer that these operators have no intention of abiding by local laws and state road safety laws. Even if they did, this would not address the fact that 1. horses are flight animals and it has been proven no amount of training can ensure horses do not react to the inherent sounds and movements of the modern city and 2. horses being used as vehicles is well and truly out of step with the current and always evolving expectations on the ways in which animals should be treated. The horses' well-being is completely compromised in this industry, making the daily suffering these horses are forced to endure unacceptable to both regular city users and interstate and overseas visitors. Using horses as objects to pull carriages is an archaic and socially unacceptable practice that must come to an end.

Under VicRoads law, horses are considered mere vehicles. We the public must demand this law be amended by doing what is needed and banning the use of horses to pull carriages on Victorian roads. Horses deserve to be recognised as the sentient, aware and complex individuals that they are and their well-being and that of the general public be made paramount. Horse-drawn vehicles are an ongoing serious risk to both the horses and the humans around them. These animals and the public should not continue to be put at unnecessary risk while authorities choose to ignore their suffering and the dangers and mayhem they continue to cause (by no choice of their own) in Melbourne's CBD.

Simply judging by the high number of incidents in recent years, and what has occurred around the world, a human or horse fatality is only a matter of time. We must pressure the State Government and VicRoads to act now! 

Melbourne and the world demand these operators stop being treated to be above the law and horse-drawn vehicles be banned from Victorian roads entirely.

 



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