Lyft links up with Maryland’s booze makers to give users free or discounted rides

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A Lyft pickup sign outside Union Craft Brewing. Photo courtesy of Lyft.

It’s a good time to be a drunk Lyft rider. The app-based ridesharing company is rolling out a new initiative here in Maryland with more than 50 breweries, wineries and distilleries, offering users a $10 credit for this weekend if they head to those spots, and supplying the venues with “coupons” thereafter to give to patrons who’ve had more than just a taste.

Lyft’s partnership, called Ride Smart Maryland, is with the Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland and Maryland Distillers Guild, which together represent 53 beer, wine and spirits makers, including nearly a dozen in Baltimore. Their shared effort begins this Friday, with Lyft offering the $10 credit to the first 3,000 users who head to or from those drinking spots and type a code, “RIDESMARTMD2,” into the app’s promotions field.

Mike Heslin, Baltimore-area market manager for Lyft, said that going forward, the company will provide a unique activation code that participating breweries, wineries and distilleries can use to discount rides for customers. They will also have a pool of “ride credits” to give to those who’ve been “overserved.”

Lyft is also putting signs up at participating places to remind imbibing patrons of the option.

“There really is no reason not to, at that point, get home safely,” Heslin said Tuesday.

Lyft has launched similar initiatives this year in Massachusetts and Texas, among other states, he said. The company will measure the success of the Maryland effort based on feedback from the alcohol purveyors, as well as data showing how many people are using Lyft to get to and from those places.

“If we see an increase in rides, then we know those are people who are definitely not at risk for driving unsafely,” Heslin surmised.

In an economic impact report about Lyft activity in Baltimore, the company found 75 percent of passengers said they go out more or stay out longer because they have access to Lyft.

Among the local favorites that are participating are Union Craft Brewing, its neighbor Baltimore Whiskey Company, Diamondback Brewing in McHenry Row, Guinness and Heavy Seas out in Halethorpe, Sagamore Spirit in Port Covington and Peabody Heights Brewing in Waverly.

Heslin pointed out the “serendipitous” timing that Ride Smart Maryland’s launch will coincide with the start of Baltimore Beer Week, which includes the Das Best Oktoberfest celebration outside M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. Other events that will certainly involve drinking this weekend: the 52nd annual Fells Point Fun Festival, an Oktoberfest benefit at Peabody Heights, Oysterfest at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill and the 12th annual chili and home-brewing contest Chilibrew at Zion Lutheran Church downtown.

Stay safe out there, kids.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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