Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing increasing opposition in his plan to ban horse-drawn carriages from New York City. While the city council is divided over the issue, a Quinnipiac poll finds that a majority of New York voters are against it.

“New Yorkers are more opposed than ever to that issue that City Hall seems to care a lot about – banning horse-drawn carriages,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.

Only 22 percent support the ban, while 67 percent oppose it, in a poll that surveyed 1,374 people between December 10 and December 16. That percentage is up from 63 percent last month. According to the poll:

This is the highest level of support for the horses since the Quinnipiac University Poll began asking this question in January. Opposition to the ban is 59 percent or higher among every group reported.

Supporters of the ban argue that the horse-drawn carriage industry abuses animals. A statement from advocacy group NYCLASS to the Observer:

“The restaurant and bar smoking ban was also unpopular at the time. People were up in hysterics, claiming that no one would ever socialize in public again,” NYCLASS spokeswoman Allie Feldman said in a statement. “But 10 years later, it’s considered one of the most successful public health initiatives in our city’s history, while the bar and restaurant industry continues to thrive. When the carriage horses are off the streets, we’ll look back at the absurdity of having animals pulling rickety 18th century carts in the middle of Manhattan traffic and say ‘What were people thinking?’”

Critics of the ban are wary of claims that the industry is unsafe for animals. They argue that its shuttering would displace the people who work in the industry:

“Thank you New York! Support for the working men and women of Central Park’s carriage industry continues to grow and grow,” George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, said in a statement. “The thousands that have been spent attacking these working people haven’t made a dent in the support from our neighbors. They know the truth. New Yorkers have already rejected this ban and if City Council Members listen to their constituents, they will reject this ban too.”

De Blasio, whose campaign received donations from NYCLASS, made the ban one his first priorities after coming into office a year ago.

(Photo: Robert Garcia)