If You’ve Ever Felt Unsafe in an Uber…

Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing apps’ SOS button hasn’t improved user safety. Here’s what they can do about it.

Susie Kahlich

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Photo by Viktor Bystrov on Unsplash

I’m a fan of mass transit, but for me, the ongoing pandemic has meant less subway usage and more private transportation when I need to make a trip across town I can’t reasonably reach by foot.

A few weeks ago, I did just that. I took an Uber to an appointment to get some documents notarized that actually wasn’t that far away, but it was windy and raining something awful, and the walk from the nearest underground stop to the notary’s office was long enough that I was sure to get drenched. So I hailed an Uber.

I was leaving earlier a bit earlier than I needed to; according to the app, I would arrive at my destination 10 minutes early. A bit of a problem in the driving rain and wind, but it’s taken me a couple of weeks to secure this appointment, and I figured it would be better to leave early, in case there was suddenly traffic due to the rain.

As soon as I got in the car, the driver was chatty. Nothing creepy or weird, just talking about the weather (terrible!), corona (long!), construction in the city, what summer might be like. Typical polite chitchat. Since we were still on lockdown here in Berlin, the driver was actually the first person I had spoken to in person that day, so while I wasn’t in the mood to chat, at the same time I appreciated the human connection.

I’ve taken a taxi to this notary’s office before, and have also walked to it, biked to it, and taken mass transit to it. I know all the routes. And we started out taking one of those typical routes, the roads surprisingly clear and the traffic light. It looked like I would be arriving 10 minutes early after all.

But as my chitchat with the driver continued, he turned off the main road and started weaving through the side streets.

I wasn’t particularly alarmed — it was the middle of the day, I didn’t feel a sense of danger from the driver, and anyway we have a unit dedicated exactly to this scenario in Pretty Deadly Self Defense, so I also had an action plan should anything go wrong…

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Susie Kahlich

CEO of SINGE | Founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense @ prettydeadlyselfdefense.com | Former producer of art podcast Artipoeus: art you can hear @ artipoeus.com