John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Serving up the latest and most piquant of public bathroom news.
Is there anything more fundamental to city life than public toilets? Group bathrooms like this ancient Roman one helped ring in the era of modern Western civilization. Corbusier considered the toilet "one of the most beautiful objects industry has produced," while Gandhi is said to have valued sanitation over independence.
So why don't news outlets devote more resources to the humble public bathroom? To help patch this sucking hole in the area of toilet coverage, today we kick off a weekly feature devoted to the latest and most piquant of privy news.
PEEING POLICY SHIFT
Politicians in the Swedish county of Södermanland, which encompasses part of Stockholm, are asking men who use their government bathrooms to please sit down when they urinate. So what is this, a political kowtowing to Sweden's all-powerful Janitors Union? Actually, members of the Left Party wants the county council to pass a law requiring labels for pee-only toilets, to help minimize the number of thrones sprinkled and puddled with off-target bodily waste.
Sitting is better for men, they claimed, because it is "more hygienic" and "also has medical benefits, including reducing the risk of prostate problems and leading to a healthier and longer sex life." If this motion passes, the Left Party has promised to push for sit-only bathrooms. Sweden is often on the cutting edge of latrine policy; for example, in 2010 the city of Karlstad launched an initiative to toilet-train seagulls.
A man is suing Arby's because their facilities allegedly scorched his privates, according to FindLaw. Kenneth DeJoie went to relieve himself in at one of the roast-beef company's chains in Monument, Colorado, when... wait for it... a "jet of steam shot out of the urinals and into his genitals."
When the pained DeJoie informed an Arby's worker about the situation, the man complained, "We have that bathroom problem again."
From the article “Toilet Left In Squalor” in the Deccan Herald, about the condition of a public toilet in the Indian village of "Veerakambha Gram Panchayat":
Heaps of liquor bottles, gutka sachets, waste etc are found inside the toilet. Even the commode in the toilet has been stashed with liquor bottles. The nearby hotels and shops have converted this toilet into a dumping yard....
“No action has been taken in this regard despite bringing the issue to the notice of the authorities concerned,” said a senior citizen from the village adding that it is not just the dirt that has become the cause of concern but even the fact that the toilet has become breeding den for mongrels is further making the situation worse.
If you run across any interesting toilet news, kindly spray it at me on Twitter.
Top photo of a moody toilet by Sittichai Jittatad.