PSA - Hitchhiking is illegal in certain states, and restricted in many others. Check your local laws before you hitch!
That said, by removing the physical act of solicitation of a ride from the equation via digital coordination, I wonder if it still qualifies as hitching?
One of my favorite Far Side cartoons (unavailable online): Two women in a car see a large man with a hook instead of a hand, a scar down his face, and an eyepatch standing by the side of the road and holding a sign that says "ANYWHERE". One of the women is saying, "Come on, Sylvia, where's your sense of adventure?"
Also I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who loves Lawrence.
So are Lyft, Uber, AirBnB, etc...
But yeah, it's interesting if this qualifies as hitchhiking, or if it's more like carpooling or ride sharing (for which there are government sponsored programs, I think...). Or does this get lumped with Uber and Lyft, just without the money changing hands part.
Gotta love Lawrence.
Back in the old Cold War days I remember reading about a country (Czechoslovakia maybe) that had a national hitch hiking system. The way I recall it working was that a driver could get a special sticker to apply to their car, which required an appropriate background check.
Potential hitchhickers had a special permit, plus a booklet of coupons, again, requiring some sort of background check.
The hitchhiker would look for the special sticker on the vehicle, the driver would check the hitcher's permit, and at the end of the ride the hitcher's would fill out a coupon with distance and such and give it to the driver, who would collect them and eventually redeem them at a state office for cash.
You simply get "qualified," and then anyone with a green sticker can pick up anyone with a green sign. There is also the addition of logging the ride as it starts, but the ride itself appears to be ad-hoc. Or, at least, that's what I understood from the video.
I picked up a big, scary looking guy covered in tattoos (against my wife's advice) while vacationing in Hawaii recently. We drove him to his folk's place, learned a bit more about what life is like for a local there, and got a tour of their small farmstead. Good time. I don't know if he would have qualified (his dad was like, 'you picked HIM up?') for this program, or have bothered to sign up. It sounds like a fine idea, but it's also fine to hitch and give and get rides with random strangers.
I don't think much of the idea of making hitchhiking "safe again." I don't think it has ever been especially dangerous. I covered thousands of miles during my misspent youth in the 70s and 80s and never had to deal with anything worse than uncomfortable proposals for gay sex. Like most things, a little awareness and common sense will usually suffice to keep you safe. I pick up most hitchhikers I see, have for the past 30 or so years, and have never been threatened by any of them.
So now you can order up someone to murder right on your phone rather than waiting at the side of the road for them.
If you think hitchhiking was never especially dangerous, you're probably male. Back in the 60s and 70s, it almost always really was safe, except when it wasn't. One of my friends from college would regularly hitch rides in our nice safe isolated college town, as many of us did, if she was going some direction the busses weren't useful. Disappeared on her way home from music lessons. They found her body after spring thaw, and she's buried in the same graveyard as my dad.
I believe that it is more dangerous for women. I'm really sorry that happened to your friend.
I'm going on my own, and others' anecdotal experience here, and the general perception among non-hitchikers/non-ride givers that it is a seething jungle out there. Maybe there are statistics that show that it really is especially dangerous, more so than your average close encounter with strangers. My own sense is that it's no more so than just walking, bicycling or driving down the road, but it's possible that it's way more dangerous than that.
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