NY Post: Rogue bike vendors continue to menace Columbus Circle — and a series of disturbing new videos has captured them brawling, battling and even assaulting cops.
Months after a Post exposé prompted authorities to start cracking down on the unlicensed bicycle renters, the new footage shows little progress has been made toward fully stopping the two-wheeled menaces near Central Park.
One video, taken on Oct. 5, captures one brazen hawker scuffling with a Parks Department officer — whom the thug puts in a headlock before other NYPD officers arrive and make an arrest.
In a second video, one illegal bike renter slugs another in the face. The victim falls to the ground and is smacked back down as he tries to get up.
A shocking third video shows the same man who was beaten in the second video getting into yet another scuffle. Blood can be seen flowing down his face.
The violent cellphone videos were taken by staff of a company called Bike and Roll NYC, which has a contract that allows it to be the only company to rent out bicycles in the area.
“They’re fighting for business,” said Chris Wogas, the company’s president.
“They fight, they push, they yell in front of each other in front of everyone in Columbus Circle — whether it’s a local walking home or a tourist,” Worgas said.
After The Post reported in July on how violent the vendors are, the Parks Department and NYPD stepped up enforcement against illegal activity in Columbus Circle.
There is now usually at least one Parks Department officer during the daytime to shoo away illegal vendors, according to Wogas. Also, more of the illegal vendors have been seen getting tickets.
But the bike hustlers have still not been fully deterred from showing up and making trouble as they try to get cash from clueless tourists.
“Unless you’re there 24/7, they turn into an angry mob,” said Wogas. “They constantly keep trying to come back. They’ve not given up. We’d love to see the program gone.”
Wogas’ company spends about $100,000 a year on security guards to protect their staff from the bogus vendors, who have threatened to kill them.
The Post first reported on how the illegal vendors have menaced legit workers by showing them pictures of weapons — and threatening to cut off their heads.
The company says it has caught hawkers stealing Bike and Roll bikes and trying to rent them illegally.
The rogue vendors target out-of-towners, using their ID as collateral and offering an hourly rate that is typically haggled.
“It goes to the image that people think New York is rough,” said Wogas. “It’s hard when that’s what they see.”
Might not need to read all of that, but I thought most of it was pretty good. There's a video of another brawl involving the same dude that got messed up in the one I posted that you can see if you click on the link. Anyway, a few things stood out to me. First of all is the obvious, that little Hispanic dude got fuuuucked up. I'm surprised he was able to get back up so quickly. The guy filming was great with the little bit of narration. Clearly he was on the side of the dude doing the punching. I also just love the whole basis of the fighting. I mean, these people steal bikes and then fight for the corner they're gonna sell them on. It's like a drug dealer or a prostitute. Except they're bikes. Hey, at least if you got your bike stolen, you know you can rent it for a day in Central Park to relive memories. Maybe even buy it back for good. Everyone's got their price. Also, I think it's weird how there's one company who actually has legal rights to sell bikes on the street in this jurisdiction. And literally no one else can do that. Kinda strange, but I guess bikes are a big commodity in the city?
I recommend you click on the link and watch the second video too. It's the Post's video and wasn't on YouTube so I didn't know how to embed it. But anyway, I think it's the funniest part of this whole story. The two guys have their hands locked and are just trying to shove each other, but it just looks very strange. And then the same dude who got his shit rocked in the first video ends up with blood coming out of his eye and I have no idea how. Incredibly odd stuff from the bike vendors of Central Park.