Paris’ open-air urinals have some crying foul
(UPI) — Officials in Paris said they might have solved the problem of men urinating on the streets and sides of buildings with new public urinals, but some residents say the new installations are unattractive and in bad locations.
The city installed three of the urinals, which look like bright red trash cans with plantings on top, earlier this year in a quiet trial-run of the project. It wasn’t until they put one on the tourist-friendly Ile St. Louis, in the middle of the Seine River, that local residents and business owners started to complain.
“It is definitely a desirable and historic neighborhood, but seeing people urinating right in front of your door is not the nicest thing,” one resident told reporters.
The newest urinal is within view of the Seine and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.
The open-air urinals, called “uritrottoirs,” were meant to solve a centuries-old problem in the French capital — people urinating in public spaces and stinking up the city. Faltazi, the company that makes the urinals, describes them as “eco-friendly” because of the way they collect urine.
The bottom part of the urinals contain straw, which soaks up the urine — and purportedly the smell. The straw can absorb about 240 liters of liquid before it needs to be collected and replaced with fresh straw. A connected device within the urinal detects when collection is needed and notifies sanitation workers.
Faltazi says the urine-soaked straw can then be used in composting.
“For better integration with the landscape, the uritrottoir has a flower garden that will beautify your public spaces,” the company’s website says.
But not everyone agrees.
“It’s not very beautiful,” resident Tiephaine Bobot told The New York Times. “I do not understand why they put it here. They could have hidden it.”
Blogger Kevhoney Fautra told the Times that while the urinals are “much better than those smells everywhere,” the installations are too “aggressive.”
“The red color makes it stand out too much.”
But the urinals won’t be removed. In fact, a fifth is scheduled to be installed later this year.
Ariel Weil, the mayor of Paris’ arrondissement, said city officials may need to find better locations, though.
“I have complaints all the time about people who urinate on the bridges, on the walls,” he said. “Street urination is a real problem.”
Paris isn’t the first city to try to come up with unique solutions to public urination problems. The cities of Hamburg, Germany, and San Francisco tried out hydrophobic paint that causes urine to bounce back on public urinators and make a mess of their own pants and shoes.
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