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Central Park Bike War

Central Park Bike War

Winning the Central Park Bike War by Mark Derho, 2015-2018

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A Personal Bike Rent NYC Case Study by Mark Derho

When Mergen Sayat hired me as a contractor in January of 2015 to build two websites for Sayat Bike Rental’s two stores next to Columbus Circle at Central Park, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.

For the first couple of months, everything was relatively normal and I worked in the office building the two new websites. Once I started doing search engine research I realized that there was a huge amount of Google volume available for “bike rental and bike tours in Central Park”. Competitor research showed that none of the four bike rental businesses that circled around Columbus Circle had a professional or even acceptable website. Mergen’s sites and the other websites that did exist were all broken and infected with viruses, and, none provided secure e-commerce.

This didn’t make any sense at first until I understood that bike rental in Columbus Circle and Central Park was dominated and largely controlled by “Central Park Bike Hustlers”, and, that this was a cash industry generating more than ten million per year.

I built the two new e-commerce websites, and they were immediately successful beyond expectations. Based on performance Mergen asked me to stay and lead the business in the efforts to win the contract for Central Park and beat his competitors. Mergen is very competitive and we had that in common.

The right to legally and exclusively rent bicycles inside Central Park is a public-private partnership that is granted by winning the 6-year contract by RFP or “request for proposal” with the New York City Parks Department. At this time, the San Francisco-based “Bike and Roll” was the one legitimate bike rental vendor Inside Central Park.

This is where the story starts to get really interesting…

Illegal Bike Hustlers harass Central Park NYC tourists, threaten legal vendor BIKE RENT NYC employees

mark derho bike rental central park
mark-derho-employee-crystal-confronts-central-park-bike-hustler

In the picture above Bike Rent NYC employee Crystal confronts “wily huckster” Ousmane, an aggressive bike rental store agent attempting to steal customers right in front of Bike Rent NYC by Columbus Circle. Photo by: J.C. Rice

It’s chaos at Columbus Circle, as brazen, brawling bike hawkers harass tourists, curse passersby, and threaten employees of the sole legal bike vendor in Central Park. The hustlers, who camp out along the southern entrances of the park, seek to intercept customers to the city concessionaire and steer them to the four or five bike shops off the park. Waving placards and yelling come-ons, they intimidate anyone who tries to stop them. “

New York Post

Mark Derho featured and interviewed in video by ABC 7, New York City

Derho says he pays more than $100,000 a year for security to protect his staff from the illegal vendors. He’s collected 800 signatures on a petition to “send a strong message to the NYPD and our elected officials to clean up Columbus Circle, Central Park South and Central Park West. “

New York Post
mark derho new york post

“It’s creepy,” said Isabella Guerra, 27, a Brazilian who had multiple encounters with aggressive vendors. “They just tried and tried and tried. I don’t know if it’s safe,” she said.

Isabella Guerra

“They’re hustling bikes and hustling people. Visitors to New York City shouldn’t be scared of entering Central Park,” fumed Mark Derho of Bike Rent NYC, who charges the bike vultures are ruining his business.

“This is worse than what the desnudas are doing. They are stealing money from New York City taxpayers and a legitimate concessionaire. My life is threatened every single day. 

What’s it going to take? 

Is somebody going to have to get stabbed?”

Derho said the illegal vendors and “crazies” who hang with them have threatened him with knives, metal chairs, and beatings. 

He also said his female employees have been sexually harassed.

During a three-hour visit to the area last week, more than a dozen of the 50 or so hawkers were spotted.

“Don’t get it from here because it costs you a lot of money! Across the street you get a good deal!” trumpeted one wiry huckster who identified himself as “Ousmane.”

The pedal pushers claim they can beat the park vendor’s $15-per-hour adult rate for a bike rental. “That’s way too much. I can do $15 for three hours,” Ousmane boasted. Another hustler offered a tourist “the entire day” for $10.

The hawkers say it’s simply free enterprise.

“Fake news,” said Reuben. “They say we are stealing their customers. Bah! Bah! Bah! It’s all bullcrap.”

The tourists are caught in the conflict.

“It’s creepy,” said Isabella Guerra, 27, a Brazilian who had multiple encounters with aggressive vendors. “They just tried and tried and tried. I don’t know if it’s safe,” she said.

“Very pushy!” griped Bauke Tuinstra, 50, of the Netherlands.

Derho says he pays more than $100,000 a year for security to protect his staff from the illegal vendors. He’s collected 800 signatures on a petition to “send a strong message to the NYPD and our elected officials to clean up Columbus Circle, Central Park South and Central Park West. “

Parks Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard called the illegal bike vending “a persistent issue” that the agency combats on a daily basis.

She said Parks enforcement issued 27 summonses in the area this year, nearly all for criminal solicitation. The NYPD did not provide data, but said the Midtown North Precinct “is aware of the condition and has been working to address it through enforcement activity that has included arrests.”

See the original New York Post article.

Media campaign with PR team to bring awareness to dangerous bike hustlers in Central Park

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Central Park Bike War

When I was hired as a contractor in January of 2015 to build two websites for Sayat Bike Rental’s two stores next to Columbus Circle at Central Park, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.

For the first couple of months, everything was relatively normal…

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Blog Posts by Mark Derho

animated video creator

Animated Video Creation by Mark Derho

Original Animated Videos by Mark Derho As PR WEBSITE AGENCY, I create original original animated videos for all industries and job roles including: sales, marketing, and training. 

illegal central park bike hustlers defeated by mark derho bike rent nyc

Central Park Bike War

When I was hired as a contractor in January of 2015 to build two websites for Sayat Bike Rental’s two stores next to Columbus Circle at Central Park, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.

For the first couple of months, everything was relatively normal…

Honorable-Peter-Vallone-Sr-and-Mark-Derho-at-PAL-Benefit-NYC-2017
mark derho with tony danza at pal 2017 12x