Some creative New Yorkers are offering help to those suffering from the effects of the city's lack of public toilets. They installed pay toilets at the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, reports Gothamist.
Uncle John's Entre-peeneurs portable toilets are open December 1st. They offer their services in exchange for a $1 donation.
But “donation” is just a word, in fact it is not voluntary. The journalist overheard the worker demanding a $1 donation.
When the journalist drew attention to this, the worker, who identified himself as Ronnie, promised that he would not refuse anyone if they could not pay.
“If you need to go to the toilet, you can go if you want,” he said. If you don't have any money with you, next time. I let them go."
Tourists were delighted with this toilet, because it is ideally located and really necessary. But the city's parks department closed the startup late on December 1.
“These portable toilets were installed without permission. So we asked the owner to remove them,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard.
On the subject: Where to Find Free Toilets in New York: Useful Resources
Morty Hoffman, a spokesman for Uncle John, said the company has been in touch with the city about restrooms elsewhere. But they are still “trying to solve the problem of obtaining permits”.
“There is a demand. People need a toilet. That's the point," Hoffman said. He added that earlier this week they started bringing the portable toilet to the site in the morning and picking it up in the evening.
“I believe we are doing the right thing. It will be successful,” he said.
Tourists love the idea.
Jackie Graham, visiting from England with her daughter, called the toilet excellent.
“There are no public toilets here. In England, there are public toilets in every store. And you can just go in and use them,” she said.
She and her daughter Kelly spent more than an hour looking for a toilet. They complained that they had to pay to use most of the toilets in private companies.
“We really couldn't find a toilet here,” Kelly Graham said. “They definitely need more toilets.”
The city estimated that in 2018, 30 pedestrians crossed the Brooklyn Bridge daily. However, there are only a couple of public toilets in the bridge area.
Lack of toilets is a citywide problem
The City Comptroller's 2019 report ranked New York 93rd out of the 100 largest cities in the United States in terms of per capita access to public toilets. The problem has become even more acute during the pandemic. Then many private institutions that allowed people to use their toilets stopped doing so. The problem was especially acute for homeless New Yorkers.
In October, the city council passed a bill requiring the city to make a list of all public toilets. And also identify possible locations for new ones by the end of 2023.
The visitors were relieved that the toilet was in pristine condition. Alain Lantz, a Newark resident who walked across the bridge with a friend, said the portable toilet was clean.
“That's great,” Lantz said in Spanish. We were looking for a restroom and found it. A lot of people need it."