Planning towards an equitable sharing economy: On housing, on transportation, on policymaking

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The sharing economy has experienced phenomenal growth in the past decade. Its two most popular sectors, short-term rental (STR) and shared mobility, have significantly transformed people’s travel behavior and disrupted the urban housing/transportation markets. On the other hand, planning and policy efforts lag behind the growth of the sharing economy due to its novelty and its market-based business model. In this dissertation, I use three empirical studies to demonstrate one of those planning and policymaking challenges from the equity perspective. In the first study, I investigate the impact of STR on single-family housing prices in Washington DC using a data-driven, hedonic analytical framework. Not only do I find a significant price inflation as a result of increasing STR activities, but I also identify the spatially uneven impacts that can adversely affect housing affordability in some minority-populated neighborhoods in the city. In the second study, I focus on the built and social environment factors to explain the spatial distribution of e-scooter sharing trips on Washington DC’s streets. Using real-time, trip trajectory level data, I am able to examine not only the built environment factors for a trip’s origin and destination neighborhoods, but also the street design factors for a trip’s traversing paths. Moreover, I apply a machine-learning based clustering analysis to segment trips by their temporal patterns, built environment, and social environment attributes. With both data-intensive analyses, I identify potential equity issues and opportunities associated with the emerging e-scooter sharing in DC. In the third study, I expand my analysis on STR and shared micromobility in a cross-city, cross-section exploration. I find similar tourist-oriented spatial patterns for three types of activities, including STR, station-based bike-sharing, and dockless bike/e-scooter sharing. Additionally, I find a significant lag in their uses in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods in eight cities, as well as identifying a potential connection between active STR business and gentrification in communities of high social vulnerability. The policy heterogeneities within the eight cities provide different angles to understand the feasible and effective planning practices and policy approaches to address the equity concerns on the rising sharing economy.