New Rule: Carriage Drivers Must Clean Up Horse Pee

UPDATED 03/31/11 12:16 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new regulation takes effect in Chicago Thursday, which critics say might hold up traffic in the Gold Coast and on the Magnificent Mile on account of horse carriages.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports the new rule calls for driver to stop and wash the street whenever a horse urinates in the roadway.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports the new rule came after Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) received repeated complaints about the lingering odor of horse urine in the quiet, affluent residential districts of the Gold Coast.

The rule requires horse urine to be “diluted with a deodorizing, non-toxic liquid” right away, the Sun-Times reported.

Speaking to CBS 2 Thursday, Reilly said the greatest problem that city crews have had to clean up the horse urine at taxpayer expense.

“The real issue here is that city tax dollars are being used here to clean up after the horses. I think that’s a terrible use of tax dollars,” Reilly told CBS 2. “Every other city requires drivers to clean up after their horses. City crews shouldn’t be dispatched to remove the stink.”

As it is, horses are required to wear diapers, as a result of a long and ultimately successful crusade by Reilly’s successor, former Ald. Burton Natarus. But the diapers only collect feces; the horses still urinate directly onto the pavement.

Carriage operators say the new rule could cause numerous problems.

“It’s unsafe and unrealistic,” said Dan Sampson, owner and president of The Noble Horse, which runs carriages on North Michigan Avenue.

“They are requiring the carriage drivers to stop their horse, after the horse urinates and either lean over or get off the carriage, and pour some material on the urine spot,” he said. “Carriage drivers are forbidden to get off the carriage by insurance reasons while there are passengers.”

The horses usually stop to urinate, and that could cause traffic jams, Sampson said.

“Imagine 9 o’clock Saturday night, Michigan Avenue and Superior Street,” he said. “A horse urinates at a traffic light. A driver gets off and bottles up traffic for three or four blocks while he pours that material on.”

Debbie Hay of Antique Coach and Carriage says the new policy could also make for a dangerous situation. The horse know to go on a green light, and the absence of the carriage driver wouldn’t necessarily stop them, she said.

“You may have passengers in your vehicle and your horse may see the green light turn green,” she said. “You’ve got to hold on to your horse and do this at the same time to make it safe.”

Carriage owners also argue that the rule should also apply to dogs, the Sun-Times reported.

  • Egg

    So basically, they’re trying to drive these guys out of business with ridiculous and totally unrealistic demands. One less reason for anyone to visit Chicago.

    In the meantime, I’d like to demand that all motorists come back and filter the air with purifiers after driving through.

  • MK

    Give me a break! So the horse takes a leak and the driver has to stop mid ride and clean it up? In Chicago we have more serious problems than a horse peeing in the street! Natarus needs to get a job in the sewer department cleaning up after himself. Clean the toilet after each use!!!!!!!!!

  • monica

    Give me a Freakin Break…….is this for real????? Absolutelty is Overkill.
    I hope they retract this law….it’s completely ridiculous……and dangerous for the carriage driver’s, passengers and people in their vehicles. Find some other way to raise money but this?????? Unreal….

  • monica

    …….I would like to see what happens when the poor horse has to take a leak in the middle of a major intersection during a rush hour…..
    They are kidding right with this law??????

  • Ty


  • Fast Ed

    They are trying to make the rides more “romantic” for the passengers. LOL

    Sad situation. The first rain will wash the urine away.

  • Jerry O Henderson

    It just goes to show,while we should cut the amount of Alderman on,the city council.That ordiance shows they are doing nothing anyway,but coming up with a bunch of BS ordiances.They are sitting around 90% of the time doing nothing anyway.

  • Doug

    This is absurd. How did we survive horse pee all these years? If this is a huge issue and absolutely must be addressed, why not have the people who pretend to direct traffic, do something useful and be paid for spritzing the horse urine?

  • Carin

    Will the police officers who ride horses be required to do the same?

    • kellymewhirter

      thats what i want to know too

  • Valerie

    Now, as the carriage owners know, the original proposal had the driver get down from the carriage, spread “urine solidifying crystals” onto the urine pool, and then sweeping it up. Now THAT would be a safety risk, as we all know the most dangerous thing a driver can do during a ride is to get down off the seat for any reason. This proposal is certainly not “impossible”, here’s what you do: dishsoap bottle filled with whatever substance you use, squirt it on the urine. Sure, it’s more work, but it’s MUCH better than the original proposal.

    • Teresa Shipman

      A squirt bottle? Are you serious! You need a freaking hose and bucket to clean up horse pee! You’ll be there all night trying to squirt it with a “dishsoap” bottle

  • Jennifer

    Unfortuantely these horses are going to suffer more than they already do thanks to this new law. The owners are going to restrict fluids on these horses who don’t get enough to drink as it is, so they don’t urinate as much. During the summer when they need more water they are going to get less so that the drivers don’t have to clean it up. I do not approve of this…..

  • Hold Your Water Mr. Ed

    It is a Horse, it goes when it goes, it doesn’t care if it is on a farm or on Michigan Ave. Use diluted Simple Green, safe, simple, green.

  • Clara Draganowski

    I have a suggestion to help solve the horse urine problem. Attach a container or plastic drum under the carriage under the drivers seat or behind the front wheels. The drum can contain water or some other solution that the driver can operate with a foot pedal or leaver while driving. It would spray the water or solution in a spray pattern like the old street washers did. The driver would not have to stop and could take care of the urine without endangering anyone. This could be done with little cost and would be a safe solution. I have the idea someone should design it.

  • Poopee

    bigger diaper duh

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  • kellymewhirter

    so carriages have to clean up after their horses… What about the cops on horseback or does the law not apply to the ones trying to enforce them

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