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About RightRides

What we do

The mission of RightRides For Women’s Safety, Inc. is to build safer communities by ending gender-based harassment and sexual assault. We work towards this by community organizing and offering direct service, safety education and advocacy programs.  

In our RightRides program, we offer women, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming individuals a free, late-night ride home to ensure their safe commute to or through high-risk areas.

We are also a founding member, and the managing partner, of New Yorkers for Safe Transit, the only coalition in NYC dedicated to raising awareness of gender-based violence in mass transit, and working to end it through community organizing, education, advocacy and policy change work.

Why we do it

We are dedicated to empowering and educating people of all ages and backgrounds to increase their personal safety awareness to reduce the risk of harassment and assault.  

We work in neighborhoods with many lower-income, minority residents with limited (or a lack of) public transportation.  Although crime overall is down in NYC, statistics of sexual assault have increased in many of the areas that we serve, often as high at 200%.

Studies show that women and those in the Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Gender Non Conforming (LBTQGNC) community typically make 5% to 15% less per year that their equally qualified male or heterosexual female counterparts due to bias. This can mean many do not have the extra funds available to take a taxi or a car service, choosing instead to use public transportation and walk home.  Walking home through desolate and/or poorly lit areas late at night increases the chance of being targeted for hate crimes or sexual assault.

We believe that it shouldn't be a luxury to get home safely, whether it is from a work shift, school or simply being out and about. We are committed to providing community-led programs to address the safety needs of diverse populations and work to empower these communities to establish innovative solutions to erradicate sexual harassment and assault.

How we got started

The primary program of our organization, RightRides, was founded in August 2004 in direct response to assaults on women walking home by themselves late at night in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, two North Brooklyn neighborhoods.  

The founders Consuelo Ruybal and Oraia Reid own a car and believed that by offering a free late night ride home, the risk of sexual assault would decrease.  They got a cell phone for use as a dispatch phone, printed flyers and using their own vehicle, started driving riders home. Soon others owning cars volunteered to help operate the service.  

RightRides became operational in early September 2004 and in 2004 – 2005 the program drove over 200 riders safely home in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and the Lower East Side and East Village neighborhoods in Manhattan every Saturday night.

Despite ongoing outreach efforts, finding dedicated volunteers owning cars proved to be too difficult, as changes in vehicle reliability or volunteer’s schedules severely decreased the number of available cars and drivers.  Also, many potential volunteers approached RightRides about driving, but did not personally own cars. 

Concurrently, there was growing demand to expand RightRides by adding nights and neighborhoods with higher assault rates, lower-income residents and limited public transportation.  With fewer vehicles and drivers than could meet demand, coupled with a limited initial service area, RightRides was unable to accommodate about 50% of requests for a ride home.

RightRides took a temporary break in late 2005 in order to secure a fleet of cars for qualified driving volunteers to operate.  During that time the organization received 501(c)3 non profit status, strengthened the internal structure and solicited for a fleet of cars to make the RightRides service possible.

RightRides entered into an agreement with Zipcar in May 2006 for a fleet of 3 cars for volunteers to drive, in order to expand the service to greater neighborhoods and soon, additional nights.  By late 2006, RightRides drove nearly 600 riders safely home, in 19 NYC neighborhoods – a 300% expansion from 2004-2005. 

In 2007, RightRides expanded it's service area to 35 neighborhoods, across four NYC boroughs. In 2009, RightRides expanded to Friday night service, to serve the entire LGBTQ population and is operating in up to 45 NYC neighborhoods, across four boroughs. RightRides recently drove our 3,000th rider safely home.

This is possible thanks to Zipcar's continued generosity and donation of 8 cars along with the incredible support of hundreds of volunteer Drivers, Navigators and Dispatchers who help operate RightRides. We're grateful for the individuals donations, foundations and community sponsorship that keeps RightRides running!

Where we’re going now

Our long term goals include serving many more neighborhoods within NYC and on additional nights, in addition to furthering the community organizing, safety advocacy and educational work we do.

We'd also like to expand RightRides to other cities that show a need for a free, safe, late night ride home service. We're seeking dedicated individuals and organizations in other cities to help make this possible.

Interested in getting involved?

We're always seeking Drivers, Navigators and Dispatchers to help make the RightRides program possible. Interns help make our related safety educational and advocacy programs possible.

If you'd like to help bring RightRides to your city, please click here.

We are also actively diversifying our Board of Directors and specifically, we're seeking leaders with senior operations management experience to help us scale our work to the national level. Major donors (gifts of $1,000+) and those with interest in soliciting major donors are also encouraged to apply. Transgender, gender non conforming individuals and persons of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in joining the RightRides Board of Directors, a letter stating interest, request an Application and please include your resume.