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Horse carts were a common sight on Sofia streets but a new ordinance aims to make them extinct, Source: Amy Denio, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Sofia bans horse carts from its streets

Sofia bans horse carts from its streets

Traffic violators will have their animals confiscated “for safekeeping”

As of today, 1 June, there will be no more commuting on horse-drawn carts and wagons on the streets of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The city authorities have finally stepped ahead with their plans to ban these types of vehicles and exclude them from the traffic circulation.

In cases of violations, the competent authorities will detain in custody the vehicle until it is requested by the owner and will return it after payment of the relevant fines. The animals used to pull the vehicles will be handed over to Ekoravnovesie, a municipal firm usually tasked with managing the homeless animal situation in the city. The horses or donkeys will also be returned to the owner after they pay the care and treatment costs.

In reality, this is an expansion of the ban ordinance which was introduced in February and prohibited these vehicles from the downtown area, though infractions were still common. The new ordinance declares the entire territory of the city a horse-cart-free area.

Horse wagons are frequent traffic violators

This means that visitors to the city will no longer be able to enjoy the exotic sight of horse carts merging in and out of traffic on the streets of a modern European capital. In fact, the cited reason for the necessary prohibition of these vehicles was their frequent traffic violations, which endanger their safety and that of other drivers and pedestrians.

The ban is imposed due to frequent violations of cart drivers such as not yielding to motorized traffic, driving on sidewalks, and even moving in the opposite traffic lane. In addition, horses and mules used as draft animals are almost always poorly cared for, malnourished, ill and rarely provided with the necessary veterinary care.

These were the arguments presented for the proposed ban according to municipal councillors Carlos Contreras and Borislav Ivanov, during a discussion of the measure at City Hall back in February. The authorities now expect improved traffic, road safety and cleanliness following the ban, as carts were also often used to transport and smuggle waste illegally.

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