San Francisco Taxis Put on Notice with Peer-to-Peer Ridesharing Service

SideCar promises a simple way to connect drivers with ride-seekers for intra-urban rides.

Plenty of websites and apps now help travelers connect on long distance road trips to save money and fuel. Thanks to companies like Zimride, people driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco no longer have to brave long stretches of the I-5 alone (with the lone comfort of In-N-Out to get them through the journey). But why should intra-urban travel be any different? Is there a way to make it just as comfortable to hitch a ride to the grocery store over your iPhone as it is to hitch one across Texas?

An app called SideCar launched publicly today, promising "a seamless experience that connects you with drivers in your community instantly." Users enter their pick up and drop off locations, wait for a driver to show, and then pay a cashless donation using their phone based on a "community average" that crowdsources a fair price. To offer a bit of security, the app's website promises that "Every community driver is licensed, insured and background-checked" as well as interviewed over video chat. If that's not enough, GPS-tracking, round-the-clock customer support, and community ratings promise extra safety.

Of course, for some people that may not be enough to make them feel good about hopping in the car with a stranger. And there's always the question of how you ought to interact with the driver, who's not a professional, may want to chat, or may want nothing to do with you. The final challenge for the startup is regulation—the company must choose its words carefully to make it clear that the payment is a donation, not a fare. Donation or not, SideCar CEO Sunil Paul told TechCrunch that the "'vast majority of people'" paid something during SideCar's 10,000-ride private beta.

For now, the app is only available in San Francisco, but the company plans to expand rapidly.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Fraser Mummery

via National Nurses United/Twitter

An estimated eight million people in the U.S. have started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for their own or a member of their household's healthcare costs, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The poll, which was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, also found that in addition to the millions who have launched crowdfunding efforts for themselves or a member of their household, at least 12 million more Americans have started crowdfunding efforts for someone else.

Keep Reading
via Library of Congress

In the months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the military to move Japanese-Americans into internment camps to defend the West Coast from spies.

From 1942 to 1946, an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans, of which a vast majority were second- and third-generation citizens, were taken from their homes and forced to live in camps surrounded by armed military and barbed wire.

After the war, the decision was seen as a cruel act of racist paranoia by the American government against its own citizens.

The internment caused most of the Japanese-Americans to lose their money and homes.

Keep Reading

Step by step. 8 million steps actually. That is how recent college graduate and 22-year-old Sam Bencheghib approached his historic run across the United States. That is also how he believes we can all individually and together make a big impact on ridding the world of plastic waste.

Keep Reading
The Planet