As New Yorkers emerge from quarantine and thousands flood the streets in protests, the city’s lack of public restrooms is leading to the escalation of an infamous and particularly pungent problem — public urination.
According to the New York Post, the “Big Apple” has become the “Big Toilet” as “drink windows selling to-go cocktails and beers have sprung up throughout the city” only to leave a “steady flow of revelers freely peeing in public since most bathrooms remain closed.”
Combine that with daily gatherings of protesters and increasingly warming weather and you get a particularly foul-smelling concoction.
Here’s more from the Post report:
A lack of restrooms has left New Yorkers in a bind. They want to go out but then they are left holding it in. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops where New Yorkers could always find relief in the past have closed their restrooms to the public. Plus, with fears over the coronavirus still very present, many don’t feel safe going into germ-infested public restrooms.
“Last night, my co-worker saw some guy just coming down the street and pulling down his pants [to urinate],” said Brittany Spano, 27, who works at a beer store on St. Mark’s Place. “She was like, ‘Nah, not here, man.'”
“There’s definitely been an uptick on this street, from what I’ve seen,” she added. “Public urination was already an issue in New York. If this continues into the summer, the smell is going to get pretty bad.”
According to the Post, the lack of public restrooms has come to the fore during recent Black Lives Matter protests. The Twitter account @OpenYourLobby has even taken action by reaching out to museums and theaters and creating a spreadsheet of available toilets in the city.
A 23-year-old who lives in Park Slope told the Post that public urination has become a “big topic” since the coronavirus pandemic.
“My friends and I talk about it all of the time now,” she said. “I have done it myself in Prospect Park … All of the public restrooms like McDonald’s and Starbucks are closed. If you are far away from your home, what are you supposed to do?”
It’s worth noting that even if police wanted to crack down on the act, there is very little that they could do. In 2017, New York City softened its regulations on public urination as part of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, allowing police to issue a civil summons rather than a criminal one in such cases. But the New York Times reported that many officers opt to do neither.