Skepticism

To Uber or Not to Uber?

To Uber, or not to Uber – is that the question?
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The stench and delays of public transit,
Or to put one’s feet against bicycle pedals,
And by pedaling, get there? To Uber, to Lyft –
No more, but by not Ubering do we end
Our complicity in the thousand unnatural shocks
Kalanick is prone to? ‘tis a conundrum
Deeply to be weighed. To Uber, to Lyft,
To cab, perchance to get there: Aye, there’s the rub,
For in unregulated cars, what nightmares may come,
When we have shuffled off the dreaded subway,
Must give us pause. There’s the expense
That makes Calamity of our wallets:
Who would bear the two-dollar fares of transit,
Or Uber’s Surge Pricing, the rich man’s enrichment,
The stink of despiséd cabs, the Law’s fawning,
The insolence of Travis, and odd turns
That drivers reliant on GPS take,
When you yourself might your destination make
With your own two feet (for free)? And how do Uber(X) drivers bear
To stop and go for such a petty price,
But for the dread of being unemployed?
The underemployed driver, from whose car
Most Travelers return, meets the need,
And makes us rather use the apps we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
But Conscience should make Bikers of us all,
And thus the Pasty Hue of the chauffeured
Is covered o’er, with the decent sweat of Riding,
And calf muscles of great size and definition,
So that Uber VCs go apeshit
And pull the font of funding. Pedal now,
You Uber-abandoner, and by thy miles
Be thy Uber sins forgiven.

TL;DR: An Uber exec proposed doxxing journalists who criticize the company. He later apologized, but Uber has a history of looking at journalists’ Uber records, anyway. The news caused a flurry of promises to uninstall the app, but it seems like the outrage is a bit delayed given the company’s long record of underpaying workers, sabotaging competitors, sexualizing women, and raking in dough. Folks were okay with all this, but drew the line at revealing journalists’ information? The doxxing suggestions was reprehensible, but I guess it just took a direct near-threat to wake people up to what Uber is really all about (money, if it ain’t clear). 

Anyway: biking, for those who can, is a good alternative, as is public transit. (And my apologies to Shakespeare.)

Bike/transit image from Richard Masoner via Flickr.

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skeptech

Kerry is a longtime skeptic and technology enthusiast, currently in recovery from too many years spent working in enterprise software. She still believes in the power of technology to do good, when used judiciously. Find her on Twitter or Google+.

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7 Comments

  1. November 18, 2014 at 4:15 pm —

    This is beautiful. Bra-VA. For all that your average cab is considered to be a racket, I’ll still prefer that over Uber any day of the week. That is, of course, in those situations where my own two feet or public transit will not suffice (being as I am terrified of biking in Boston).

  2. November 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm —

    It’s an excellent innovation, but the ridesharing companies have gotten really greedy recently and made it hard for the drivers to make a fair living off it.

  3. November 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm —

    > biking, for those who can, is a good alternative, as is public transit

    It most certainly is:

    https://departmentfortransport.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/cycling-in-the-netherlands-picture-post-4-children/

  4. November 18, 2014 at 8:09 pm —

    Ha! That was beautiful!

  5. November 19, 2014 at 8:28 am —

    We are in the midst of a big drama with Uber Exec all …you are against competition, no regulation, most taxi drivers would make it through our stringent back ground check system etc etc.

    Me I’m for less cars not more and I am privileged to be able to live close to work so I bike to work . There was a small window back 15 years ago where Toronto’s waterfront was thought to be too junky for condos so the minion class got co-op housing. :)

  6. November 19, 2014 at 11:53 am —

    I have issues with the entire idea of Uber.

    The people who advocate for it remind me of the people who blindly believe that charter schools or vouchers are the answer to poor performance in public schools. Both groups see a deficiency in the current paradigm (public schools and public transportation) but rather than address the problems of the current model and the causes of those problems, and then working to address them, they decide to leave the system altogether which further weakens the system and ghettoizes those who have no choice but to stay in the current broken system.

    It smacks of privilege and selfishness. Plus I hate the ridiculous mustaches that some drivers started putting on their cars, a local dealer started affixing them to cars on their lots. Yuck.

    I know this sort of makes my look like the “get off my lawn” type but I see this as just as selfish and wasteful as one person in a large vehicle yet one gets a pat on the back.

  7. November 19, 2014 at 10:27 pm —

    Public transportation is not considered safe, in my city, and riding a bicycle between the places I go (i.e. home to work or to the store or school) would be legitimately unsafe and likely not possible. I live in the sort of place where I have experienced an armed robbery with shots fired and most people I know in every part of the city have a story about being held at gunpoint, threatened with a gun, shot at or shot, etc. Also, while I’ve moved to be closer to the places I need to go, I regularly have to use the freeway without warning to bypass a train stopped on the railroad tracks or a major car accident, and I frequently have to drive 20-30 miles one way to get to a store that sells something other than food or liquor. So, naturally, I have a car.

    Some of my friends use Lyft which has recently moved into the city. Some also drive for the company. They seem untroubled by the ban on the service the city has levied, but my law abiding mentality can’t get past the ban and worries about it. Also, I find the idea of random strangers as a replacement for cab drivers frightening in a way a woman who has walked down an unsafe street in a big city in the dark will understand. While regular cab drivers are also threatening, there a sense that the can company’s reputation rides on them being reasonable and the car is very recognizable and the dispatcher knows who picked you up and where and when.

    So I don’t use Lyft or Uber, but I don’t argue with my friends who do. Generally the use I’m aware of is limited to rides when too intoxicated to drive, which leaves out the use of bicycles or walking anyway, as both are illegal public intoxication and can earn you a ticket. Both are unsafe in such a condition, especially going several miles in the dark on fast roads, often crossing rough neighborhoods which the city is riddled with. And who am I to say they should wait an hour to pay five to ten times as much for the same service?

    I just avoid needing it for that reason, drive my own car and get rides from friends when something goes wrong with my car.

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