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A Safe Hitchhiking Model?

(Photo: Holly Clarke)

(Photo: Holly Clarke)

Our podcast called “Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?” got a listener named Jenny O’Brien thinking. Here’s what she wrote us:

Here’s the back story: I live in a rural area in Northeast Kansas, where there is no bus, so I am forced to drive all the time.  After I heard your podcast, I started thinking about how to make hitchhiking safe, easy and reliable so I and other rural residents can use it as a public transportation option. I figured that all the hitchhiker really needed was a credential, way to signal her destination, and a system to record who she is riding with for safety.

O’Brien is now in the process of founding a ride-sharing service called Lawrence OnBoard:

Here’s how it works: It starts with membership in the organization, Lawrence OnBoard.  Members will be able to sign up as riders and/or drivers; everyone will be registered and vetted.  Riders get a photo ID and a folding dry erase board branded with the club logo.  Riders can go to a safe roadside (we are mapping these), write their destination on the board, hold it up and catch a ride with any passing driver.  We’re also working on other security backups, a driver incentive program, a training manual and cell phone app. We are in research and development right now, but the results of the first 120 rides are astonishing.  Average wait time is under 7 minutes!

Lawrence OnBoard has been featured in various local news outlets and Kansas Public Radio.