Q&A - Horse Drawn Carriages and Traffic Rules

Q&A ImageQUESTION: I have a question/concern about horse carriages in a very busy downtown area and at a very busy intersection blocking the pedestrian crossing, forcing pedestrians to walk around the horse and into the traffic. The same issue exists for the bike lanes. The horse carriages routinely use the bike lanes and cyclists are forced out of the designated lane into the car traffic to get around the carriage. I have also witnessed the horse carriages stopping traffic in all three directions while they make a u-turn in the intersection.

 If the carriages are supposed to be following the rules that apply to all vehicles, this is not happening. I have documented the situation and contacted Victoria bylaw and they directed me to you.

I see this as a very dangerous ongoing situation and only a matter of time before we have a serious accident. The situation is made worse with the added pedestrian traffic during the times when cruise ships are in port.

ANSWER: The short answer is that the driver of a horse drawn carriage has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle on our roads.

"vehicle" means a device in, on or by which a person or thing is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, but does not include a device designed to be moved by human power, a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks, mobile equipment, a motor assisted cycle or a regulated motorized personal mobility device;

The carriage is a drawn vehicle that transports people on a highway. They are also considered to be traffic from the point of view of other road users:

"traffic" includes pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, cycles and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using a highway to travel;

Here's the specific rule that tells everyone how the carriage fits in with the usual driving rules found in Part 3 of the Motor Vehicle Act:


120 Unless the context otherwise requires,

(c) a person riding an animal or driving an animal driven vehicle on a highway has the rights and is subject to the duties of the driver of a vehicle under this Part.

So, unlike cyclists who must use the right edge of the roadway under some circumstances expect to find carriages using the same lanes as cars or trucks and each has to treat the other in the same way.

Finally, if the driver of the carriage is not following the traffic rules properly, it is the responsibility of the Victoria Police Department and the City Bylaw Enforcement to insure that they do.

This is an interesting issue, actually.

It makes me wonder - are those horse 'n buggy drivers required to hold a professional license? Heck are they required to hold any driver license (and if it's Class 7 then must it be on display?).

Or do they, like cyclists, undergo no training or testing and just trot along in blissful ignorance?