NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The operator of bicycle renting kiosks in Columbus Circle claims its employees are routinely being threatened by illegal bike vendors who lease what may be stolen bikes to tourists.
Chris Wogas, president of Bike and Roll New York City, said the illegal bike renters have been physically harassing, intimidating and “following our staff on lunch, trying to get them to send business to them for a kickback.”
He claims the threats against his workers keep getting worse.
“Our manager there has been threatened this year alone to be killed numerous times; our head security guard has been threatened with decapitation,” Wogas told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.
Wogas said he had to put one of his employees up in a hotel after an illegal vendor threatened to follow him home.
The owner of Bike and Roll told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond they have hired private security because it has become such an issue. They also told WCBS one of the peddlers was even trying to rent a bike with the Bike and Roll sticker still attached.
Diamond also reported that she and a public relations specialist for Bike and Roll were approached by an illegal vendor as they stood near Bike and Roll’s kiosk, but once he saw the WCBS microphone, he ran away. He later came back to explain himself and told Diamond he does it to make a living and that what he is doing is not illegal.
However, the New York Department of Parks & Recreation may beg to differ. They say they have an exclusive contract with Bike and Roll and every time an illegal bike is rented, they lose revenue, Diamond reported.
Tourists said the illegal hawkers follow you around like scalpers.
“They just didn’t look like they were legitimate, they didn’t have a proper store and they tried to get the bike from across the road from the park,” one woman, named Amelia, said.
After filing numerous complaints with police, Wogas is now waiting to see what they will do, Stern reported.
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