Getting women home safe at night

February 25, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
For many women, staying out late on a Saturday night is fun. But it's getting home that can be challenging, even dangerous. Now, there's a service that offers women safe rides, and it's free.

Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg went along for the ride.

Amanda Hilbert and Ryan Hagen are chauffering women around New York City, helping them get home safely.

It's the essence of a program called Right Rides.

"We started Right Rides in direct response to an increase in sexual assaults in north Brooklyn neighborhoods on women who were walking home by themselves late at night," co-founder Oraia Reid said. "

When Reed and Consuelo Ruybal started right rides in 2004, they used their own car. Now, they have a small fleet of cars donated by Zip Car.

They also have about 200 volunteers, with as many as a dozen working from 11:59 each Saturday night until 3 a.m. Sunday. They dispatch, navigate and drive.

And because of those volunteers and donated cars, Right Rides has expanded expnentially. It started in three neighborhoods, and now it's in 35 in four boroughs. But the founders say they want to continue expanding to other New York City neighborhoods and to other cities in the nation.

"People say, 'I was a rider, I needed that ride,'" Reid said. "'I know how important it is to get home safe, and I'm going to make sure that I give a ride home to another person who needs it."

Right Rides is only open to women or trans-genders. So while Ryan wouldn't be able to use the service, he's happy to volunteer.

"It's a good community atmosphere," he said. "New Yorkers helping New Yorkers. It feels pretty good."

Anna Prebluda used Right Rides to get home because it's safer than the subway and it's free.

And there's not even any tipping. Those who do the driving are just happy with the thanks.

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