Deficit of public toilets – Nowy Dziennik

Deficit of public toilets – Nowy Dziennik

Anyone who lives or visits New York knows that finding a public toilet here is a difficult challenge, and often impossible. Unaware, surprised by their absence, they experience real torture when the need catches up with them.

Wieslaw Cypryś

It’s rarely talked about because it’s embarrassing. However, I will be tempted to make a few remarks, because the problem is really important. New Yorkers have struggled to find an usable public restroom for decades, but city officials seem to be oblivious to it. Negligence in this matter is a small social crisis that requires immediate intervention.

Eight and a half million people live in New York City, not counting undocumented immigrants and tourists. Where are they supposed to go when the need compels them?

Possibilities are few and far between, of course, excluding those that hurt the pride of man: stealthily stopping by trees, bushes and flower beds, or between parked cars. These are men, what are women supposed to do? From what I hear, they get frustrated when they go out on the town. Colleagues from work say that they plan their route so that, if absolutely necessary, they can stop somewhere where dirt and smell will not scare them. Those who spend most of the day between one point and another usually enter offices that are somehow related to them, even when they have no business to attend to there. There is an informal courtesy agreement that allows the use of the toilet, because today an employee of our company must use it, and tomorrow theirs.

However, not all New Yorkers have these opportunities. What do they do then? They stick to more or less tried ways. They enter fast-food outlets like McDonald’s and Burger King, where with a bit of luck you can stand in front of a toilet bowl and experience relief. We wait for someone to leave the cabin and before the door slams shut, we hold it. Often, however, the service behind the counter shouts: “Toilet only for customers”, so this trick fails. I myself indulged in this strategic mission many times, and whether I was hungry or not, I ordered fries just to get to the bathroom.

The lack of a serious approach to the problem on the part of the city authorities caused New Yorkers to act. Opera singer Theodora Siegel on Tik Tok keeps an account informing about the location of places where you can take care of your physiological needs. She started at McDonald’s in Times Square, where she shot a short video and uploaded it online. The very next day, in the comments section, she found information from people who listed shops, restaurants, banks, and hotels where you could go on demand without fear of being kicked out. The list is constantly being updated as some establishments change their approach to “people from the street”, while others end their services and close their doors for good.

Struggling with dealing with matters that are not alien to every living being, they share their unpleasant experiences. Some sound dramatic.

We should bow our heads before all owners and managers of public utilities who allow not only customers to use the toilets, but also understand those who do not agree to it. Bathroom people dirty, litter and devastate. They smoke cigarettes and take drugs. But these aspects are not mentioned, as if it were not true and the main reason for refusing to use the bathroom.

Why should New Yorkers count on the favor of others to meet their physiological needs? This activity is not a luxury, it is a necessity, so conditions should be created for them to indulge in it.

Tried. After budget cuts in the 1970s, the construction of public restrooms still hit an insurmountable wall. In the 1990s, the city initiated a pilot program to install six paid toilet cubicles imported from Europe. Over 40,000 people have used them in four trial months. people, which was hailed as a success. The plan to place another hundred got bogged down in bureaucratic mud, and the existing ones were dismantled. This is the official version, but the real reason for not installing them was that they attracted criminals. Homeless people gathered around them, reaching out for donations from New Yorkers and tourists who used them, and at night they made a lair in them. This suffered the reputation of the “Big Apple”, which was followed by the reputation of a dangerous and unfriendly city for tourists.

New York, however, did not lay down its arms. Under the administration of Michael Bloomberg, who had ambitious plans, another attempt was made to install twenty self-cleaning toilets. It ended up being four.

But just when you think it can’t get any worse, it gets worse. Even worse was the pandemic, which made it even more difficult to access places where we go “on demand”. With its arrival, all 69 bathrooms located at metro stations were closed. Almost three years later, only nine of them were opened. At the same time, the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) is considering the installation of devices that detect the smell of urine when someone indulges in urine odor in the system’s elevators.

Not surprisingly, New York ranks 93rd in the nation in terms of public restrooms per capita. If you want to be the “greatest city in the world”, it’s not enough that there are modern skyscrapers, Broadway theaters stage beautiful musicals, and restaurants serve culinary masterpieces, you need to invest in infrastructure that takes into account the physiological needs of its residents and visitors.

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