Op-Ed: Sharing Cities We Can Trust

Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman launch a withering critique of the sharing economy as we know it, and envision "sharing cities" built around technologies that put community before commerce.

1 minute read

February 3, 2016, 7:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Little Free Library

davebloggs007 / Flickr

According to researcher Duncan McLaren and planning professor Julian Agyeman, "'Sharing' is often too narrowly conceived as being just about economic transactions. The poster children of the 'sharing economy' are being co-opted by the interests of venture capital and its insatiable demands for rapid growth and high-value exit strategies."

Sharing platforms, as they are currently conceived, may not be doing justice to the word. "Uber, rather than enabling ride-sharing to cut congestion, is now little more than a luxury taxi company serving the global footloose elite [...] And Airbnb, the couch-surfing website, turns a blind eye to the growing use of its platform by landlords buying up affordable rental property to convert to short-term lets, which is contributing to gentrification and housing shortages."

The authors cite humanity's natural tendency to share resources, lauding "true" sharing techniques like interest-free loans, co-working spaces, and shared BRT. "Sharing organizations that put community before commerce, and culture before economics, are flourishing in the shadows of the sharing-economy unicorns [...] More generally, city leaders need to support communal models of sharing that build solidarity and spread trust. Sharing systems designed around equity and justice can help shift cultural values and norms toward trust and collaboration."

Friday, January 15, 2016 in The Boston Globe

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Street scene in Greenwich Village, New York City with people walking through busy intersection and new WTC tower in background.

Planning for Accessibility: Proximity is More Important than Mobility

Accessibility-based planning minimizes the distance that people must travel to reach desired services and activities. Measured this way, increased density can provide more total benefits than increased speeds.

April 14, 2024 - Todd Litman

Wood-frame two-story rowhouses under construction.

Fair Housing Cannot Take a Back Seat to ‘Build, Baby, Build’

If we overlook fair housing principles in the plan to build US housing back better, we risk ending up right back where we started.

April 11, 2024 - James Jennings

"No 710" lawn sign on green lawn.

LA Metro Board Approves New 710 Freeway Plan

The newest plan for the 710 corridor claims it will not displace any residents.

6 hours ago - Streetsblog LA

Close-up of row of electric cars plugged into chargers at outdoor station.

Austin’s Proposed EV Charging Rules Regulate Station Locations, Size

City planners say the new rules would ensure an efficient distribution of charging infrastructure across the city and prevent an overconcentration in residential areas.

7 hours ago - Austin Monitor

Green hills with orange California poppies in bloom in foreground in Chino Hills State Park, California.

Making California State Parks More Climate-Resilient

A recently released report offers recommendations for keeping state parks healthy and robust, including acquiring additional land for conservation and recreation.

April 22 - Spectrum News 1

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.