Avoided at school, dreaded at festivals, waited for before a race, nowhere to be found on a city walk, public restrooms are an obstacle course for women. Degradation, scarcity, queuing. A certain status quo is maintained around public toilets. These are situations that we all experience on a daily basis. Each of us has a toilet story to tell. For women, it is worse, and reflexes are built since childhood. To pee “just in case” before leaving, or as soon as a decent toilet is seen, even if you don’t feel like it. These are unhealthy habits, which disrupt the frequency of visits to the toilet, as illustrated by the urge to pee as soon as we reach our home’s doormat.
Another disadvantage to the lack of toilets in the city is the wild and inappropriate peeing that flourishes at the corner of the sidewalks. In Lille, some streets are known to be quiet “loos”. So much so that a cleaning service is deployed specifically for these areas. Stained all year long, these pieces of sidewalks are besieged during the Braderie, where there is 1 public toilet for 50 000 “Bradeux”. With such waiting time for the loos, the quiet streets are taken by assault!
“There should be 3 times more toilets in the city, mainly urinals, in order to offer an acceptable quality service. Tourists but also mobile workers currently suffer from a lack of infrastructure that allows them to pee simply and with dignity. Cities are also seeing an increase in unwanted “pee” that degrades public space and bothers local residents,” explains Nathalie des Isnards, founder of madamePee.
The next big festive and urban gatherings will be the Christmas markets, and some cities are soon to be caught out. With more than 2 million visitors in a month at some markets like Strasbourg, sanitary equipment is crucial. In some cities, the additional devices installed for the occasion are not sufficient. Often, their installation is done at the expense of craftsmen’s chalets, and when it is necessary to decide, the toilets are the first to lose ground. As a result, visitors have no choice but to look for free toilets elsewhere. For example, in the fast food restaurants or the cinemas that are next to the main squares, and whose queue quickly becomes endless. A speaking example.
Same observation in Metz, where last year, the first ones annoyed by this lack of sanitary facilities were the shopkeepers themselves. For in addition to the visitors in number, the artisans present all the duration of the market, don’t get a better treatment, and the animation of a cottage with a pressing need is most certainly inconvenient.
One only has to read the examples cited above to quickly understand that the first to be affected by this lack of sanitation are women. Women, who are less likely to take to the streets as a toilet, find themselves locked into a status quo that is long overdue to be broken. No, going to the bathroom as a woman should not mean scarcity and waiting. But rather speed, hygiene, privacy and safety! So what are we waiting for to overthrow the established order of public toilets together?