No one likes when landowners slap up “No Trespassing” signs and block access. But with access disputes back in the news, it’s time to confront the possibility that our current strategies to promote public access aren’t solving the problem — they’re making it worse.
Access disputes boil down to a simple fact: Whether over concerns about privacy, liability, or risk of abuse by a few bad actors, landowners are often reluctant to grant strangers open access to their private property.
But when it comes to trying to enhance access, we often go about it the wrong way. Public-access groups pursue confrontational approaches that make enemies out of the very landowners they need to engage most.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. Consider the sharing economy, which is revolutionizing the way people tackle similar problems. With services such as Airbnb and Uber, entrepreneurs find ways to share “access” to underused assets like spare bedrooms or vehicles. They do so by connecting suppliers and demanders and creating trust among both parties.