For women to stay safe while traveling alone, at any time of day really, several safety experts will recommend taking a cab or rideshare instead of risking the vulnerability of walking. And for many across the country, a rideshare app is usually the safest way to get home at night.
Still, rideshares come with their own dangers,
Today, Lyft is launching a new feature to give riders a choice in who picks them up. Women+ Connect, a long awaited feature from users, will allow women and nonbinary riders to match with women and nonbinary drivers.
“Just for your own peace of mind, the ability to choose a woman driver might be exactly the thing that allows you to say, you know what, yeah, this really is making my life better,” Lyft CEO David Risher explained on TODAY.
Not only will the app help women and nonbinary people have more peace of mind while using a rideshare, but the feature also works to help women rideshare drivers earn more money — and perhaps attract more women to the job.
Risher said in a press release that this feature gives women and nonbinary people “the opportunity to earn money on their terms.”
Women only make up about 23% of Lyft drivers, despite women being nearly half of the people who request rides, according to a recent survey.
Drivers will have the ability to edit a preference in the Lyft app that prioritizes matching them with other women and nonbinary riders. The press release notes that this is an added feature and shouldn't be looked at as a guarantee, so if no women or nonbinary riders are requesting rides at that point in time, the rider will be matched with men.
While users will not be able to request female drivers on Lyft exclusively, the Women+ Connect feature will allow riders to select a preference feature in the Lyft app that will increase their chances of being connected with a woman or nonbinary driver.
When the feature rolls out in a new city, women and nonbinary riders will receive a prompt in the app to select “Count me in.” The option will increase their chances of matching with women and nonbinary drivers, according to Lyft’s press release.
All users will be able to update their preferences at any time and have the opportunity to opt out of the feature in their settings.
Rideshares have a history of being dangerous for both drivers and riders — even with safety features and driver ratings, there have been kidnappings, assaults, and murders, many times involving female victims. This new Lyft feature hopes to give both female riders and drivers greater peace of mind when booking rides.
Uber has had a similar feature called Women Rider Preference that allows women drivers to pick up more women — but doesn’t allow female and nonbinary riders to request more women drivers.
Women+ Connect will begin roll outs in Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, San Fransisco, and San Jose on September 13, 2023. Lyft plans to extend the service to more cities in the near future.