CP file photo

A reason many tourists ride around Charleston’s streets in horse-drawn wagons is they want to experience what it could have been like in plantation days to move around the city. But guess what? They also don’t want to walk in the summer heat and humidity. Makes sense. It gets hot here. 

But continue this line of thinking to include carriage horses. Do you really think as temperatures soar that they enjoy pulling heavy wagons crammed with up to 17 people who haven’t met a dessert they won’t eat?

In recent years, the city of Charleston lowered the top temperature that carriage horses can work from 98 degrees to 95 degrees, or when the heat index is 110 degrees. This is better than it was, but also remember where the thermometer is — four stories on top of a Meeting Street hotel. When it’s 95 degrees up there, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s much hotter on the steamy, blazing pavement. Want to understand how hot it is on the ground when it’s that hot? We challenge you to walk barefoot on Charleston’s streets for just 15 minutes and then gauge your comfort level. 

Fortunately, there’s a new alternative, the e-carriage developed by local entrepreneur Kyle Kelly.

“This is a whole new concept and it kind of checks every box for the tourism industry in Charleston,” Kelly said at a May unveiling of the new contraption, which is powered by 16 batteries. “So, I don’t see much negativity or pushback from the city. I think they’re going to be looking forward to this too.”

We encourage the city of Charleston to move forward with all due speed to allow this animal- and eco-friendly twist on the traditional horse wagon. Not only could it reduce trauma on carriage horses, but it should improve the smell of downtown streets — and cut costs of companies having to patrol and clean up horse poop and urine.

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