Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have completed more than 20 billion rides globally since 2010. Studies have found that this change to transportation systems has affected health outcomes, including alcohol consumption and motor vehicle crashes. In research recently published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, doctoral student Christina Mehranbod and colleagues explored the effects of ridesharing on alcohol-related assaults in New York City. Using a novel spatial ecological case-crossover study design, the authors found ridesharing was associated with an increased incidence of nighttime assaults at bars.
Using publicly available data from the NYPD and NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (NYC TLC), the authors were able to geolocate assault events in the 262 taxi zones, the spatial unit used by the NYC TLC, for 2017-2018. The spatial ecological case crossover study allowed the researchers to compare taxi zone-hours where a nighttime assault occurred at a bar or restaurant — case taxi zone-hours — to taxi zone-hours one week before and one week after the case taxi zone-hour — control taxi zone-hours. This study design controls for those environmental conditions such as overall foot traffic, bars or restaurant size, and more, that would regularly influence the availability of ridesharing services and risk of nighttime assault at any on-premise alcohol outlet.
Mehranbod and colleagues found that for every 100-trip increase in the number of rideshare trips, there was a 5% increase in the number of nighttime assaults at a bar. The authors did not find the same significantly positive association at restaurants. With existing evidence pointing to increases in alcohol consumption associated with ridesharing, the findings that ridesharing may also increase nighttime assaults at bars adds to our understanding of ridesharing’s impact on population health, especially in metropolitan areas.