ATLANTA — A rideshare company catered exclusively for women in launching in Atlanta. It's called HERide and was founded by a former Lyft driver of four years.
“The main thing that makes us different is we are for women by women," founder Jillian Anderson said. "All of the drivers on our platform are women.”
“I was probably one of the earliest Lyft drivers in Atlanta," she said. “I would normally drive at night, and I would pick up a lot of women and they were canceling rides until they got a woman driver."
"There's been women that have been followed, she added. "There's been women that have been contacted after their ride. Women that have been touched on."
Thousands of assaults are reported to Uber and Lyft every year, according to the rideshare giants’ own data.
Uber’s most recent safety report shows between 2017 and 2018, there were nearly 6,000 reported sexual assaults during or after a ride. They also reported an average of 4 rapes reported each week.
Lyft released similar data a year later, revealing more than 4,000 reports of sexual assaults from 2017 to 2019.
11Alive asked both companies for updated data, but were told none is available.
When they released their 2019 safety report, Uber vowed to release safety and assault data every two years. When asked why no new report has been released since, an Uber spokesperson explained the delay is because they are waiting on NHTSA's 2020 FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting Data) report, which has not yet been released.
Anderson says when the idea of a women-only rideshare company came to her, it seemed so obvious.
“Women feel uncomfortable in ride share and rides all the time," she said. “It just dawned on me and I was like, wait, there aren't any apps that cater just for women? Half of the people that take rideshares are women.”
So she launched HERide, with co-founder and marketing director Kiersten Harris.
They’re still in the fundraising and driver interview process.
"When a driver signs up, I want to meet you," Anderson explained of their process. "Not only do I want to see your car, but I want to see who you are, the type of person you are.”
Even during a pre-launch, the women of Atlanta have seemingly spoken.
“The response has been insane," Anderson said. "We have over twenty thousand downloads on our platform…customers that have downloaded our app, created an account and are waiting for us to go live. Women need this. Women need the option.”
You can download HERide or learn more here.
While Lyft and Uber did not provide updated assault data, both companies offered a statement and an outline their many safety features.
An Uber spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority at Uber. Every trip is GPS tracked, drivers must pass a thorough background check, and we’ve pioneered many of the safety features that are standard in the industry today, including an in-app emergency button. Our work on safety is never done, and we remain committed to investing in technology and features designed with safety in mind."
Uber also highlighted the following safety features:
- 911 integration pilot in 1800+ jurisdictions: If a rider or driver uses the emergency button in one of these cities, Uber's tech and partnership with Rapid SOS enables key trip details to be digitally sent to 911 dispatchers including the caller's name, make and model of the Uber car, license plate, and GPS.
- RideCheck helps make sure drivers and riders are OK in the event of a possible crash or unexpected long stop.
- Follow My Ride feature available in the app for drivers enables them to share their trip route in real time with family or loved ones.
- On-Trip Reporting: This feature allows riders to report a non-emergency safety issue during an Uber trip.
- Trusted Contacts: Riders can choose to be prompted automatically to share their trip with loved ones. Available globally.
- Safety Center: a dedicated section in the app where riders can learn more about safety features and info which is available globally.
- Check Your Ride notification: A push notification and in-app reminder that instructs riders to make sure the car details -- make and model, license plate, and driver photo - match what is in the app before getting in.
- Verify Your Rides: Riders have the option to verify each of their rides with a unique, 4-digit PIN that they can verbally provide to their driver, who will have to enter it into their own app in order to start the trip. This helps riders ensure that they’re getting into the right car, and it helps drivers ensure that they’re picking up the right rider.
- In April 2021, Uber rolled out a new rider verification feature across the US that will provide an extra layer of verification for riders who are using anonymous forms of payment such as prepaid cards, gift cards or Venmo.
- In 2021 Uber also launched the Uber Survivor Resources Hotline which provides immediate, confidential and trauma-informed support for survivors reporting critical sexual assault incidents related to the Uber app.
In response to this story, a Lyft spokesperson said: "Safety is fundamental to Lyft. While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many. Our goal is to make every Lyft ride as safe as we possibly can, which is why we’re constantly working to develop new features, policies and partnerships to help protect and support riders and drivers."
The company said they offer several safety features, including:
- Driver screening: Lyft requires initial and annual background checks of drivers, continuous criminal and driving record monitoring, as well as community safety education created in consultation with RAINN, North America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
- In-app features:Lyft allows riders to share their location with family and friends, connect directly with Lyft Support, and quickly and easily access emergency assistance from the Lyft app. Two of Lyft's newest features include:
- Emergency Help, supported by ADT, allows riders and drivers to quickly and discreetly connect with an ADT security professional, who can alert authorities so they can arrive at the user’s live location, equipped with ride details like the vehicle’s make and model, license plate number, and the intended drop-off location.
- With Smart Trip Check-in, Lyft can reach out to riders and drivers if their ride appears to be irregular and can connect them to our own Safety team or emergency assistance.