Rideshare - IMPD Can Work Together
Driving for a number of companies throughout the State of Indiana, I hear a lot of things from a lot of people. Rideshare drivers, business owners and folks from all walks of life.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) and rideshare drivers come in contact with each other on a regular basis.
Lately, some of the Uber and Lyft drivers in Indianapolis have been saying that Friday and Saturday nights downtown are getting more difficult. I am sure some of our police officers would agree with that statement.
Rideshare Drivers - IMPD - Indianapolis All Growing
On any given Friday or Saturday night, downtown Indy is a very busy place. And whenever we have a special event taking place, the problems of dealing with crowds are magnified.
People like to visit the area restaurants and bars to "blow off some steam" after a long work week.
An increasing number of travelers are coming to Indianapolis for conferences, sporting events and other activities. I have even heard people say "...we just came to Indianapolis to see what it was all about".
Rideshare Drivers - IMPD - Growing Pains
Based on comments I have read and overheard, I think some drivers and some police officers are getting frustrated with each other. Drivers have recently mentioned being confronted by police on Meridian and Georgia Streets.
Comments such as these are common:
"...This cop on Meridian St. was going to write me $150 ticket if I picked up any passengers for pay. He said that all Uber and Lyft drivers are to have their chauffeurs licenses or it is illegal..."
"...he shook his head at me when he saw the passengers in the back of my car, shined a light in my car, and then let me pass. How does he know I wasn't picking up my kids?..."
"...I think it's messed up how on a Friday and Saturday night they line up 10 cars in middle of meridian then tell me how I'm blocking traffic when I pull up to the curb at brothers for 30 seconds..."
"...Might be the same guy that threatened to write me a ticket... I stopped in front of a fire hydrant to drop off paxs on Meridian at Taps and Dolls..."
As a driver, I can tell you that the regulations and requirements for driving for a rideshare company in Indiana and Indianapolis are "about as clear as mud". Neither Uber nor Lyft offer much (any) training at all and expect drivers to sift through their own city, county and state requirements on their own.
That leaves a lot up to individual interpretation. Not good.
Professional drivers actually welcome clear guidelines and would like to see a higher standard for drivers. This ensures a level playing field, safer vehicles and a more professional industry.
Rideshare Drivers - IMPD Have Difficult Jobs
I believe Indy police officers have important, difficult and often dangerous jobs, and I stand behind them fully most of the time. It cannot be easy having to deal with rowdy, inebriated people, a constantly changing environment and just trying to keep the peace.
And given the turbulent times we are living in, a cop has to discern between a "friendly" and a threat in a split second and act accordingly. And if he (or she) makes a slight miscalculation, could find himself facing discipline or even charges.
In the past, IMPD could easily identify commercial drivers, such as taxis and limos, by their distinct designs and trade emblems. Now, police are having to deal with (often) unidentified vehicles of all shapes and sizes, picking up people from every corner of the city.
Rideshare drivers also are dealing with the same kinds of situations. People who have been drinking are often loud, sometimes rude and even disrespectful while taking a ride. Drivers have to deal with people being sick in their personal vehicle as well as property damage to their car or truck.
Once in a while, drivers are even threatened by their rider(s). I know because I have had that experience in my own vehicle.
And neither rideshare drivers or police officers are exactly getting rich doing their jobs.
Rideshare - Taxis Businesses Changing
While the number of taxis is shrinking, rideshare driver numbers in "Indy" are growing daily. Rideshare drivers in Indianapolis are mainly driving for Uber and Lyft for now. That may very well change in the future.
And the drivers' experience levels varies greatly.
Some rideshare drivers are professional drivers with decades of experience. Others have very little driving experience at all, let alone in congested, heavily populated areas. Pedestrian, especially after drinking, often do not pay enough attention to the cars and trucks around them.
To further complicate matters, there doesn't appear to be any designated rideshare pickup areas, clearly marked, for weekends and big events. That just makes it more difficult for everyone.
Perhaps, someone can come up with a better solution. Maybe it is time to designate some areas specifically for taxi and rideshare drivers to share, especially during the busiest evenings, weekends and special events. Maybe movable signs or stanchions could be used at just such times.
With a few changes and some police, public and driver education, I believe we can all do a little better.
Rideshare Drivers - IMPD Now and Then.
Indianapolis is a growing, thriving Metropolis and sure to change even more in the coming years. People are moving to Indianapolis for its business growth, low cost housing and convenience to stores and shopping. I am increasingly hearing positive comments from visitors and residents while driving.
Until such time as "driverless vehicles" arrive, the Indy rideshare industry is here to stay and growing every week. Former taxi drivers are now starting to drive for Uber and Lyft. People enjoy the convenience of leaving their cars at home while they enjoy all that Indianapolis has to offer.
I believe our neighbors, family and friends, many of whom are working as police or rideshare drivers, all want the same thing: to be able to do our jobs while working with the public and to get home safely at the end of the day.
Rideshare drivers, IMPD and Indianapolis we can and should all grow together for the benefit of all.