Five thousand, nine-hundred eighty-one. That’s the number of sexual assault claims Uber received in 2019. In 2020 that number was lower due to pandemic lockdowns, but there were nearly a thousand assault reports, and troublingly, 141 reports of rape. Lyft isn’t much better, recording 4,158 sexual assault incidents between 2017 and 2019. Suffice to say, women’s safety is at risk when using ride-sharing services. And as Black Enterprise reports, stats like these inspired two entrepreneurs to create the women-only ride-sharing app HERide.
Created in 2020 by former ride-share driver Jillian Anderson and DeVynne Starks, HERide is precisely what it sounds like: A ride-sharing app for women. Anderson says the idea for the app came to her while she was out driving one night. Women she picked up kept expressing the need for a ride-sharing option that put their safety first.
“After hearing those requests over and over again, I finally started listening to a podcast called ‘How I Built This,’” Anderson told Black Enterprise. “And when I found out that it only took two people to found Lyft and Uber, everything clicked from there. And I’ve been locked in ever since.”
From there, Anderson and Starks created HERide. The app’s main goal is to “prioritize women’s safety as they seek transportation.” All drivers on HERide are women. The app’s website says drivers are required to go through an extensive background check. The company also addresses pay disparity, paying drivers a higher rate than the industry standard, while also giving out driver incentives. From the website:
Our in-ride security features make sure you arrive at your destination safely. Our drivers are also paid more than the industry standard and are incentivized to provide best-in-class service. When you choose to ride with HERide, you’re supporting a like-minded driver and elevating your community by helping to improve greater gender balance, choice, and participation in the ride-sharing economy.
This isn’t the first time something like this has been done. Back in 2014, a similar project, Chariot for Women, launched. The team behind it, wife-and-husband duo Kelly and Michael Pelletz, sought to offer women a safer option after hearing reports of harassment and assault from users of the biggest ride-hailing apps. Shetaxis also started around the same time, aiming to give women drivers and women customers a way to connect.
Unfortunately, the women-only model led to gender discrimination lawsuits against both of those earlier startups. While Shetaxi appears to still be up and running, Chariot for Women seems to have disappeared.
Clearly, there are still major safety problems involved with ride-hailing. Let’s hope that products like HERide are able to move us toward a safer, more equitable solution.