Ride sharing app Lyft has announced a new feature to be released in the coming months allowing people to request their driver’s gender.
According to The Advocate, the new service entitled “Women + Connect,” will allow riders to turn on the option in their app. The company reports the feature was highly requested and will allow women and non-binary people to feel more comfortable on their journeys.
This feature cannot guarantee that riders will have a woman or non-binary person as their driver if those drivers are not available. It requires that the driver also turn on the feature in their app and both must choose a gender in order to be assigned a ride.
Ride sharing apps have long faced backlash on their lack of action in cases of sexual assault between drivers and riders. Lyft received 4,158 reports of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019, a statistic only revealed in 2021. In 2022, 17 lawsuits brought against the company claimed it failed to protect its users.
Both Lyft and another leading rideshare app, Uber, require drivers to undergo background checks before they can officially start driving. But both drivers and riders have reported instances of sexual or physical assault.
The new gender selection feature hopes to create a safer environment for more vulnerable users, should they feel they need it.