Uber, Lyft Drivers Have More Concerns Than Just Low Pay

In addition to concerns about low pay and reduced driver incentives, drivers also have to be careful while on the road. In this week’s roundup, senior RSG contributor John Ince covers ways that drivers have to protect themselves from other passengers on the road – both in and out of the car.

She Claimed Her Uber Driver Raped Her. DNA Proved It Was A Lie [Dailywire]

Sum and Substance: In May, the driver, who will not be named by The Daily Wire because he is a victim, was charged with sexually assaulting a woman in his SUV after picking her up as a passenger. He was ordered to be held without bail, based on the woman’s claims.

The woman, who has not been named in news articles,claimed the male Uber driver picked her up after she left a party in Franklin, Massachusetts, early one morning. The woman ordered the Uber because she was too drunk to drive to her friend’s house, CBS Boston reported. The woman claimed the Uber driver stopped short of her destination and then raped her for more than an hour in the back seat of the vehicle. She claimed she received bruises on her arm, leg, and back as a result of the attack.

Uber records showed the 3.53 mile trip did last one hour and 13 minutes, but the driver’s attorney, Robert Carmel-Montes, said the woman had spent the hour talking about her problems.

My Take:  This is one of the possibilities that is a concern for drivers.  It’s one thing to let the particulars unfold as if it were a regular ride. It’s another to let it unfold as it did – a long ride and a long conversation. How do you stop it? You have to remember – there are a lot of bad people out there. Be careful.

‘There really isn’t anything that can keep you safe’: Women Uber and Lyft drivers speak out [SFGate]

Sum and Substance:   Laura Alicia Moreno, a Bay Area Uber driver, was driving late one night in Santa Clara County and picked up two unruly men from a bar. They were very drunk, and one immediately started making rape jokes and hitting on her.

“You’re so beautiful; do you have a boyfriend? If you were my girlfriend, I wouldn’t let you drive Uber — so many weird men out here,” Moreno recalled him saying. At first, she tried to stay quiet and nervously laugh — she needed to get home, and she needed the money from the ride. But as a sexual assault survivor, the man’s comments set off alarm bells in her head. She told him to stop, or she would ask him to get out of her car. In return, the man screamed at her, called her a bad driver, and threatened to give her a low rating.

“I left that ride completely shaken, angry and disgusted that those men made me feel unsafe in my car,” said Moreno. “I didn’t drive for another three weeks after that.”

Bay Area Lyft driver Iesha Birdsong has also had her fair share of run-ins with aggressive male riders. One passenger tried to kiss her; another refused to leave her car until she gave him her phone number. “I quickly disintegrate a lot of mens’ manhood before they even have an opportunity,” she said. “Otherwise, I’m pretty sure that I probably would’ve been raped or taken advantage of quite a few times.”

Recently, Lyft announced a few new safety initiatives following a lawsuit from 14 women alleging the mishandling of their sexual assault complaints against drivers from the app. Now, all drivers will be required to complete a “community safety education” program, and a tool is being added to the app that alerts Lyft safety agents if a ride is unexpectedly delayed or off-course, as well as an in-app panic button for both drivers and riders who need to call 911 (Uber launched its in-app 911 button about a year and a half ago, with technology that digitally sends trip data to 911 when pressed in some U.S. cities).

My Take:  Here again, it’s a delicate situation. Where the conversation goes depends a lot on where you want it to go.  But there are always situations where it doesn’t go where you want it to go… and that’s where you have to be careful.

1 Scary Thing That We, Uber and Lyft Have In Common [Forbes]

Sum and Substance:  One sure way to sucker investors is to offer them a piece of a fast-growing company that’s losing money. With ever-larger dollops of cash – most notably from Japan’s SoftBank – private investors drive up the value of the company before it goes public. Next, they tap the public’s gullibility to pawn it off on IPO investors at a ridiculously high valuation.

Sadly for IPO investors, pain is on the menu for those who buy into a brand that lacks a path to profitability and suffers from slowing growth. This comes to mind in considering Uber and Lyft which managed to go public. …

The simple prescription for IPO investors is this: only invest in companies that make their business model profitable before they pour gasoline on it and sprint to their IPO. …

My Take:  Here we have again a quick take on the quick take. Be careful out there. It’s a hard world out there for investors. It’s never too soon to start to take your money.

Uber drivers block traffic in Manhattan, protesting low pay and poor working conditions [CNBC]

Sum and Substance:  On this morning, a warm but windy Tuesday in May, an hour passes without a passenger request. “You’re just thinking, ‘When is the ride going to come? When is the ride going to come?’” Lama said.

A little after 5 a.m., one does. In a collared, white button-down shirt and khakis, he’s dressed more formally than usual. Later in the day, he’s taking a test for a job with the New York Police Department. He doesn’t want to drive for Uber anymore.  “I’m not making a living,” Lama said. “Almost all drivers are looking for work elsewhere.”

UBER SAYS ITS MISSION IS “to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.” Yet as the company’s initial public offering unfolded in May, drivers across the country went on strike to denounce its low wages and lack of benefits.

The ride-hailing company went public at $45 a share and has since dropped to around $34.

Uber labels its 3.9 million drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, a distinction that means it isn’t required to provide a minimum wage or paid time off, compensation for overtime or health insurance. And drivers are almost entirely on their own when it comes to the constant expenses of their cars, including insurance, repairs and gas.

My Take:  This is the life you choose when you become an Uber driver. You can’t afford vacation. You don’t get a chance to buy wine for fun. You just get to take other passengers. You just get to answer to the algorithm. That’s the life you chose.

Why Do City Dwellers Love to Hate Scooters? [CityLab]

Sum and substance: You might have noticed that electric scooters have a remarkable ability to spark rage across a large swath of urban residents. More than 100,000 people follow Bird Graveyard on Instagram, sharing all the creative ways that an e-scooter can meet its demise. The profile page of another popular Instagram account, Scooters Behaving Badly, reads “Don’t park or ride your scooter like an asshole. Or better yet, don’t ride one at all.”

Popular hostility to e-scooters is puzzling when one considers that the vehicles take up less public street space than automobiles and don’t pollute as much as they do. The more thoughtful e-scooter critics often point to safety concerns, with some justification: The CDC recently concluded that about one in 5,000 e-scooter trips in Austin resulted in a rider being hurt.

Harry’s Note: Great post here by David. I really just don’t get the hate directed towards scooters when there is so much potential for good – especially when compared to other new mobility modes like rideshare that have some clear downsides.

Readers, what do you think of this week’s roundup?

-John @ RSG