While the company claims that nearly 40% of the sexual assaults were by riders. more than a thousand assault cases a year seems unusually high for any type of business.
Sexual assault cases reported on the supposedly “woke” rideshare service Lyft have been a problem for the platform even before a 2018 CNN report rollicked the rideshare industry, finding that 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers had been accused of assault in the previous four years. That investigation, based on just police reports, was unreliable. “There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or for drivers of other rideshare companies,” CNN admitted.
Forced into damage control mode, Uber and Lyft agreed to publicly disclose this data. Three years later, Lyft finally has. And in those three years, CNN reports that their data shows 4,158 sexual assault incidents and 360 reported rapes between 2017 and 2019 related to rides on the Lyft platform.
The good news, as Lyft tells it, is that these assaults appear to be rare on their much-used platform. “From 2017 to 2019, over 99% of trips occurred without any reported safety incident,” Lyft says in their own words on their own 16-page report. “The safety incidents referenced in this report account for 0.0002% of all trips.”
You can see above their methodology for describing what constitutes a sexual assault via Lyft’s criteria, with categories ranging from “Non-Concensual Kissing of a Non-Sexual Body Part” to “Non-Censensual Sexual Penetration.” And according to a Lyft addendum to the report, the driver is often the one assaulted. Lyft estimates the reporting victim percentages as “Drivers: 38%; Riders: 52%; Third parties: 10%,” with third parties described as "law enforcement officials, regulators, family, friends or media reports." So that means the driver or rider percentages are off a little, and we do know that riders can behave terribly too.
And it may not surprise you that Uber’s own report showed much higher numbers of assaults. Uber’s data, released in December 2019, showed a vastly higher 6,000 sexual assaults and more than 460 reported rapes, and that covers only a two-year period (2017 and 2018). In fairness, that time frame is longer ago, so maybe Uber has cleaned their act since 2018. But we here at SFist can’t forget a 2015 incident our editor Eve Batey encountered, recalled in the post entitled Last Night, My Uber Driver Said He Was Going To Rape And Kill Me.
Uber has more updated sexual assault data supposedly to come, so we should be able to gauge their progress better. “Uber is slated to publish its second transparency report later this year,” according to the CNN report. But CNN also adds, perhaps ominously, that “Lyft has not committed to releasing any future reports on the topic.”
Image: Paul Hanaoka via Unsplash