NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD says thugs are beating and mugging bike riders on a popular Manhattan bike path.
The victim of one attack recently came forward to tell fellow riders to be on guard, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Tuesday.
The bike path along the Hudson River is popular with New Jersey bikers who take the route and cross the George Washington Bridge to get home at night in the dark.
One victim told Champion he’s always on guard, but was not expecting what he got when he turned one corner.
“It’s a little surreal,” said Keith Cho, who had one eye swollen shut. “It was very traumatic. I’ve never been jumped before.”
A rope mark burned into his neck detailed the reason behind Cho’s newfound sense of insecurity.
“I’ve lived in this area for 35 years and for the first time in my life I feel unsafe to come to this city,” Cho said.
The attack happened on the night of Aug. 24, when he was mugged while riding his bike along the river on what’s called “the Greenway,” near 164th Street in Washington Heights.
It happened after he ran into a rope his attackers put up.
“The rope I saw at the last second, but it was too late. I was already clotheslined,” Cho said.
Moments later, Cho said he was punched with brass knuckles and beaten. The attackers not only ran off with Cho’s bike, but also his cellphone and cash.
He’s not alone. On Thursday, another man was knocked off his bike with a bat – and then beaten and mugged in the same area.
“The lighting is absolutely dismal and in this section you’re in pitch dark and really it’s a criminal’s paradise,” Cho said.
Investigators believe the attacks are connected. What’s even more troubling is that people Champion caught up with say they rarely see police in the area.
“If something happens, no one can see you. You could be there for maybe a couple of days in the brush and no one would find you,” Susan Hurse said.
“It’s scary to think that you can’t come out and ride your bike and have fun without worrying about being mugged,” Susan McMullen added.
Nearly two weeks after his attack, with his wounds still healing, Cho vowed to never bike on that path again at night.
“They could’ve just taken my bike and just went off. I was in no condition to chase them or go after them. I was totally discombobulated,” he said.
The NYPD said it has stepped up patrols in the area. Investigators said they think the attackers could be targeting people with high-end bikes.
Presently, officers only have a vague description of the men, who are described as being in their 20s.
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