New Lyft option matching female, nonbinary passengers with drivers makes travelers feel safer
Dec 20, 2023, 6:50 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — Women taking Lyft rides to and from events and gatherings this holiday season have a new safety feature they can use.
The Lyft rideshare app recently launched Women+ Connect in Salt Lake City. It allows both passengers and drivers to opt in to be paired with a female or nonbinary person when one is available, but it is not guaranteed.
Crystal Cooper said she’s been driving for Lyft for nearly 10 years. She said, especially as an overnight driver, she’s thrilled to see this option.
“Honestly, it brought tears to my eyes because I have been waiting for this,” Cooper said. “These are conversations I’ve been having with my passengers for years.”
Cooper said many of her riders over the years have expressed safety concerns.
“I’ve picked up so many women that have been at the bars, picked up women from parties, nonbinary folks, LGBTQIA folks who are just wanting to find a safe ride home, and sometimes they just don’t feel safe in certain circumstances,” she said.
Cooper said she’s had scary encounters from the driver’s seat, too.
“I had a guy like snarling in my car,” she said. “I’ve had people try to get into the front seat. I’ve had many times where I’ve almost been attacked, and I’ve been assaulted.”
Cooper said not all men give her or other people problems, but she wishes behaviors would change.
“Men, just stop being creepy to the drivers and to the passengers,” she said.
She said the Women+ Connect feature will help more women get to where they need to go.
“Female riders told me that they stopped taking rideshare in general until they heard about this,” Cooper said.
Cooper said one criticism is many of her passengers don’t know about the option. She wishes it was advertised more. She hopes the new feature incentivizes people to sign up to drive. She estimates only 30% of drivers in Salt Lake City are female.
“That would be a really great thing to be able to say… women, nonbinary, trans folks to be able to come out and say, ‘Hey, I can go and I can drive at night,'” she said.
Rideshare passengers at Salt Lake International Airport told KSL TV they felt the same way.
“A girl traveling alone with another girl sometimes makes you feel safer than maybe a girl traveling with a guy,” traveler Emma Stallings said.
Many said they’re excited to take advantage of the option.
“For some reason, I do feel safer if I know that it’s a woman rather than a man only because I travel alone,” said Jeanette Edwards, another traveler. “I think I would prefer it if I’m with my grandchildren as well.”
Edwards said she’s never had a negative experience with an Uber or Lyft driver, regardless of gender, but she said she appreciates having the option.
“I feel like women have each other’s backs,” she said. “I think we need to.”
Lyft users can opt into the Women + Connect feature by:
- Open the menu icon in the top left-hand corner of the app.
- Tap ‘view profile’
- Click on the pencil edit option
- Select ‘gender’
- Switch on the toggle for ‘Women+ Connect’