Walking through the city and exploring new towns can be really exciting, until nature calls and there’s no restroom in sight. Accessibility to clean restrooms is a public health concern. In addition to accessibility and cleanliness, locational awareness is key to increasing a city's walkability and health.
Each city's walk score is determined by the number of errands which can be completed without a car. Walking, jogging, and biking ventures become a problematic and uncomfortable without nearby toilets. For pregnant women with children, elderly and those with Crohn's disease, restroom availability can be dire and every second counts.
With more apps, maps and even fees provide promising solutions to improve public bathroom and to support public health. Locational knowledge to public restroom access encourages the use of shared spaces and amenities which leads to more community interaction, lively cities, thriving tourism and health-improving walkability
BENEFITS OF AVAILABILITY
There are numerous ways restroom availability can positively impact citizen life quality as well as thriving tourism. Creating more walkable cities is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase the health of a town.
In addition to convenience and comfort of citizens and tourists, special populations with special needs make toilet accessibility a more prominent issue. For example, pregnant women, children and people with health conditions (such as Crohn’s disease) require more consistent restroom access. Additionally, developing more single-occupancy restrooms accommodates transgender privacy needs, which has become a growing national concern.
Implementing public restroom access strategies will go a long way in encouraging bikers, walkers, joggers, etc. Walking is one of the most recommended and simplest health strategies for every demographic. Through more awareness of accessible toilet locations, citizens and tourists more frequently enjoy walkable shared areas downtown.
Walkable cities encourage interaction, which keeps residents happy and creative. Townspeople can enjoy the city more and add more life to the city. Increase convenience and comfort of city enjoyment to encourage the overall health of your city.
PUBLIC RESTROOM STRATEGIES
Despite issues with restroom availability in several U.S. metro cities, some great strategies are evolving. Many restaurants and other businesses still require purchases for usage. Hostile signs like “public restrooms for paying customers only” discourage walking pedestrians.
In efforts to address special populations like people with Crohn’s disease who have precious seconds to secure a location when the urge arises. To cater to health concerns, many entities have taken it upon themselves to create more accessibility through smart phone apps, which calculate opportunities based on your zip code. Apps like “Sit or Squat” and “Where to Wee” include an extensive database for locating nearby pit stops.
Places like Australia have a national public toilet map and more trails are creating rest stop icons to include in the brochures. The Australian government provides information for over 16,000 public toilets. It includes information operational hours and facility inclusion (i.e. showers and baby-changing stations).
Public restrooms are a public health issue. Starting with places like national parks and trails, designers are gravitating towards more access and awareness. Locational icons on brochures go a long way in helping guests quickly discover nearby options.
In many European countries, they utilize an alternative solution often referred to as “50p to pee,” which stands for 50 pence. While that may sound absurd to most Americans, this small fee could go a long way to keeping restrooms safe and clean. As cheap as 50 cents for usage would be feasible for greatly improving the situation in many public spaces of U.S. cities. At least it would be more accessible.
Once we’ve solved the issue of public restroom accessibility, perhaps then we can address the issue of accessible breastfeeding stations. Quality cities are created with quality of life for its citizens. That starts by taking care of their most basic needs.