Amid the rise of violent, anti-Asian attacks in both Canada and the United States, many in the Asian and Pacific Islander community are fearful for their safety, especially when walking outside or taking public transportation. Julie Kim is hoping to ease these fears for Asian Canadians with her new initiative, Go Be Safe, which aims to raise money to help cover the costs of Lyft and Uber rides for the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Toronto and Vancouver.
Kim, who is based in Toronto, was inspired by other ride-safe programs in New York City, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco and wanted to bring the same type of program to Canadians. The name of the program was inspired by the customary phrase used by her Korean family when a loved one is leaving the house: “Go safely.”
“I have experienced a few minor [racist] incidents in the past, and luckily they have never evolved… into a physical altercation but it got me thinking that one day something beyond a verbal attack could happen to me, or to any other Asian person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kim tells The RepresentASIAN Project on her decision to start the program. “After reading countless headlines about so many Asians that have been a victim of senseless attacks, this is when I decided that I wanted to do something, to ‘fight’ back and protect my loved ones and my community.
The program officially launched on May 5, 2021 and offers a reimbursement of up to $40 per Lyft or Uber ride. Currently, the program is open to elderly Asians (of any gender, Asian women and women-identifying folks and Asians with intellectual and/or physically challenges in the Greater Toronto Area or the Greater Vancouver Regional District. These individuals can apply for reimbursement by submitting a Google form within five days of using a rideshare app. Participants will also be required to submit any documentation requested in the form, and selfies will be mandatory unless there is a legitimate reason for not being able to provide one. The only exception will be if an individual is helping an elderly person with a ride, in which case, Kim encourages asking for consent before taking the selfie. (More steps on how to help elders access safe transportation will be outlined soon.)
Anyone approved for reimbursement will be notified via email between five to seven days after the submission is received, and the money will be deposited into the rider’s bank account by e-transfer on the same day.
Kim hopes that the program can eventually grow to service other individuals in vulnerable communities nationwide.
This post has been updated to reflect the launch of Go Be Safe.