Private and public health advocacy agencies are concerned with the decreasing level of fitness activity and the subsequent increase in obesity in our
nation's population. One approach to addressing this problem has been to
identify and remove obstacles to fitness and exercise. While limited, there is evidence that some people hesitate to participate in fitness activities that put them out of range of toilet facilities.
physicians often treat those suffering from hypertension by prescribing diuretics and recommending walking. Intuitively one understands
that these people will have a problem walking in a park where all the restrooms have been closed for the winter.
A recent municipal survey further documents this
Bike and Pedestrian Trails
not a major
bike issue, the availability of public restrooms is a concern for some
bicyclists and walkers, particularly women. Cold weather shortens the interval
needing a “pit” stop. Winter is also the time when most
are closed. Men, often at variance with 'civility
laws", can get by, but
for women the option is to not ride.
a minimum portable toilets to be
placed by park restrooms that are closed for the winter.
should be an element on the agenda of all caring bicycle, pedestrian and
Additionally, publishers of bicycle route and trail maps should be
encouraged to include public restroom location icons. Where
seasonal and time-of-day restrictions should be noted.
In a Chicago Suburb certain commercial
establishments agreed to be listed as having public restrooms.
Most probably some bike shops would be pleased to have their toilet
facilities noted in a trail brochure.
Those responsible for heated facilities near bicycle commuter routes
be encouraged to keep them open year round. Similarly,
must be closed should have a portable toilet placed near-by.
toilets require significantly less service in the winter months)
Organization such as the National Park Service
show by their actions that they understand the year-round need their
Park and Trail users. We urge bicycle and pedestrian
organizations to identify and thank these
Unfortunately this problem is difficult to document because most people are unwilling to discuss the issue. It does appear, however, that if people are asked to choose from a list, and the list includes public restroom availability, this choice will rank high. It is our goal to encourage those
advocacy agencies attempting to identify impediments to fitness to make sure public toilets are included in their survey selection.
Below is information that documents the problem and list discussions
with Dr Kraft of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
While not well documented, there is
anecdotal evidence that some people avoid physical activities that put
them out of range of toilet facilities. The ETC Institute of Kansas
conducts surveys to determine what factors affect people's willingness to
use public parks and trails. ETC confirmed that when survey
respondents are allowed to pick "public restrooms", that choice typically
rates high. A recent (March to June of 2002) ETC survey conducted
for Arlington County
Virginia is listed below. The community attitude and interest survey
helped determine citizen usage, satisfaction, needs, and priorities for the parks and recreation system. Based on
a list of potential improvements that could be made to parks/facilities, respondents were asked which three
(3) improvements they would most like to have made to the parks/facilities they use most often.
Drinking fountains, followed by year-round restrooms were the top two
County Parks & Recreation Survey
Pages 1 & 17 with key points highlighted
County Parks & Recreation Survey (Full
If you are an advocate for improving public restroom availability, please
advise your elected and public officials of these results. The
survey results can be used directly or as support to ensure 'public
restroom availability' is an included choice in new surveys.
What can individuals do?
Below are letters that resulted when the
the above survey came to the attention of a County Supervisor.
He recognized that his constituents probably harbored the same
concern. He contacted key Public
Officials to assess existing policy.
Letter to Public Officials
(Park, Community &
Recreation, Public Schools)
Public School Response
County Park Authority Response
Needs Assessment Final Report
Don't let this happen in your city. Please contact your elected officials
and let them know you care !!
Another innovative solution - Some
municipalities reimburse local business establishments that announce
their restrooms are open to the public with no requirement to purchase.(2)
Support from the National Center for Bicycling &
Amenities (.pdf 234 KB)
Drinking fountains and public restrooms: Drinking fountains placed at
strategic locations can ... among pedestrians. Conveniently
restrooms are welcomed by residents and tourists
Economic Benefits of Bicycle- and Pedestrian-based Tourism
landscape No-cost or low-cost improvements such as shoulders and
restrooms that can aid all highway users, and A scale of travel that can
enhance the quality of life within the
development includes a 3.5 acre park with a shelter, restrooms, kid's
play equipment, courts and playing fields. There is also a paved bike
path over the sewer easement. '
Creating Walkable Communities - A guide for local governments
Provide furnishings, such as benches, restrooms, drinking fountains, and other similar elements to create more attractive and functional environments for pedestrians.
More Voices of the People
HOUSTAN TX ... director of parks and recreation, says that
in response to resident
demand, the parking lots will be expanded at both parks, and
restrooms will be installed ...
Sugar Land plans for additional amenities at Oyster Creek
SCOTTSDALE AZ - Shoppers now have
convenient, affordable, sturdy structures to park their cars while
shopping in downtown Scottsdale. It is free and available 24 hours
a day, seven days a week. It
even has restrooms and, of course, an elevator.
Scottsdale adds parking Deborah
Bingham The Arizona Republic Jun. 6, 2005
The restroom law• Events covered: Recreational activities, fairs,
carnivals, religious gatherings or similar outdoor events.• At least one
toilet required for every 100 people in attendance.• Property
smaller than 20,000 square feet does not have to have toilet facilities,
but any existing toilet
facilities must be open and working properly.
required at Rockland events Journal News White Plains, NY Oct
DALLAS TX ...the temperature climbed to 100 degrees and I drank more liquid than I could sweat away.
This became unbearably apparent two miles into a six-mile run on a crowded course with no
portable bathrooms. Fortunately, I saw an open coffee shop and darted in for a lingering, air-conditioned restroom
break. ... Endurance athletes are making quite a splash these days
By KIMBERLY DURNAN / DallasNews.com Sept 28, '05
WINSTON-SALEM, NC The chemical toilet at Walkertown Community Park gets mighty cold in the winter.
But if the town council follows through with an idea presented last week,
residents who use the park could use a restroom supplied with
heat. Council Member Sarah Welch said she talked to Mark Serosky, the director of the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department, about providing the restrooms at the park with heat.
"This is something we could do for
seniors," Welch said. "A lot of people,
both young and old, like to use the walk at the park for
'Restrooms at Walkertown park may be heated'
By Wesley Young KERNERSVILLE JOURNAL REPORTER Nov 24, 2005
frustrated by lack of facilities
Detroit News Mar 26 '02
last, downtown Geneva visitors will have place to go
Daily Herald 8/703
and Caring for America's National Parks
want there to be a visitor's center that's worth going into. We
want the toilets to flush.... ... so that the people, when it
comes to using their own park, are able to do so in a
comfortable way. Audio
Office of the Press Secretary Aug 15, 03
Dr. Wanda Jones
has noted research showing that obesity is an important
risk factor for incontinence among women. The limited research
available indicates that women afraid of bladder leakage are less likely
to report engaging in physical activities that put them out of range of
Email from Dr Jones dtd
Jul 25, 2003
Virginia Bicycling Federation
... the availability of public toilets is important for
bicycling. Please let me know how the
Bicycling Federation can raise awareness of the issue or can support
toilet facilities at specific locations.
In response to surveys and in unsolicited comments,
users of the
& Old Dominion Trail have identified public toilets as an important
park amenity. Consequently, the Friends of the W&OD Trail is
porta potties at new locations along that 45-mile trail to eliminate
gaps without public toilets.
ARA email dtd January 30, 2002
Trenton,NJ, ..."Ever since we've asked this question, 'restrooms' is always Number
'A plan for the future of parks' The Times of Trenton
Topeka,KS ... in addition to the concrete, skaters complain about the lack of a
restroom nearby. Park regulars say it is not uncommon for kids to urinate in public and it causes an unpleasant smell.
WIBW-TV 'Skaters Complain New Skate Park Isn't Adequate'
A Collier County (FL) families using the public park next to Corkscrew Elementary are finding creative ways to get their kids to the restroom.
Parents say when you need to go to the bathroom and notice that there is nowhere to go, it can be a problem for the kids.
WBBH 'Parents, kids have the no bathroom blues'
"That's wonderful," said Ralph Appy, an official with the American Youth Soccer Organization in San Pedro.
Currently only temporary restrooms are available on the property. Permanent
restrooms, Appy said, will be especially appreciated by the program's many "soccer
The Daily Breeze 'Parks' overseers make rare trip to San Pedro'
Oct 03, 2006 Torrance, CA
Mansfield residents think they live in a great place and there is above 70 per cent satisfaction with the majority of council service areas. The largest positive swings in the council's latest survey are in parks, gardens,
public toilets and playgrounds...
ABC Regional Online 4/ 25/06
Slemenda said they had met with the Bicycle Advisory Committee about including parking and a public bathroom but it is still
unclear whether that bathroom will be open on weekends when the rest of the facility is closed.
Lexington Minuteman, MA 6/29/06
"There's not enough restrooms, especially for some of the older people who like walking on the bike trail," said John Jeskey. "It would be nice to have rest rooms in the middle and some on each end."
Ferry,OH Times Leader 7/26/06
Close restrooms? Moms, say no
Do you know what stay-at-home moms do to keep sane during the week? They take their kids to the park to meet with friends and play groups. Do you know
what would make those same moms totally insane? If the city decides to close the park
The proposal to close neighborhood park bathrooms during the week is totally shameful.
Walking home to go the bathroom is not an option for a 4-year-old
who has to go now. And it's not just the kids who have to use the restrooms ASAP. Has the person who proposed this policy ever been six months pregnant?
To take away the bathrooms (especially right when the summer is starting)
would be a real blow for San Jose moms and their
Maria Escamilla McPhail
The Mercury News CA 5/14/04
As a mother of three children under the age of 5, I was appalled to read about the city leaders saving money at the expense of the children.
Closing the park restrooms would cripple the playtime and spirit of San Jose children.
Families are not the only people who utilize the restrooms. I have noticed that
delivery drivers and postal workers
also use the facilities. How will this impact their ability to do their jobs?
I urge city leaders to explore this issue further before literally leaving us all without a pot to pee in.
The Mercury News CA 5/14/04
Opinion Question: Should we have
more natural parks
"Walking parks with trails, picnic
tables. We need toilets at all
the parks you take kids"
Jennifer Damaskek Mt Vernon VA.
Where can a person go to use the bathroom after 9 p.m.? We were just wondering if the park is open until 11 p.m.,
why are the bathrooms locked up so early? It wasn’t even dark out yet. If Escanaba is so interested in tourism, why would the public restrooms be locked by 9 p.m. at a public park by the lake?
Letter to ED Escanaba Daily Press - Escanaba,MI 7/1/06