The City of Philadelphia is asking for ideas about public bathrooms and showers

No responses have been submitted so far.

gender neutral bathroom
Sydney Schaefer / Billy Penn
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Raise your hand if you’ve been trapped walking around Philly with no place to pee. We know you’re out there.

You probably walked into the nearest restaurant or corner store promising to buy something and hoping no one yells at you. This scenario sucks for everyone involved, so Philly is looking to do something about it. The pee-repelling paint SEPTA tried didn’t really work.

The city’s Managing Director’s Office released a request for information last week asking several questions about how companies would construct and install public restroom and shower facilities around the city.

port-a-potties
Reader submission

Possible locations for the facilities haven’t been set, but the intention is to chose areas that are heavily concentrated with commuters, tourists and people experiencing homelessness.

“The City wants to create a program that will maximize potential users to ensure maximum utility and program sustainability, and avoid stigma for any one population that use such facilities,” said Alicia Taylor, communications director for the city’s Health and Human Services department, in an email to Billy Penn.

Commuters, tourists, and homeless people are mentioned specifically in the document as people who could benefit from the public facilities. Last year, 42 million people visited Philly and the surrounding counties—a record high, according to Visit Philadelphia. And per the city’s Office of Homeless Services, there are about 6,100 people who are homeless.

When it comes to commuters, there are about 22 percent more people biking to work since 2014, according to the Center City District of Philadelphia. Showers near the office could motivate more people to bike, because the one thing keeping people from biking to work in Philly is totally public showers.

Several other reasons listed for the creation of the program include:

  • preventing public urination and human waste
  • supporting neighborhoods
  • promoting economic activity

The RFI doesn’t include many strict guidelines for companies except to include toilets, sinks and showers in their responses. The document states that submitted information may incorporate permanent and mobile facilities, used needle and sanitary product disposals, and any other ideas that seem relevant.

Taylor said providing used needle disposals has been incorporated into other cities’ public restrooms, like San Francisco’s Pit Stop program.

Interested companies have to submit their responses by 5 p.m. on Nov. 17. Taylor said there haven’t been any submissions so far.

The MDO hopes to notify selected companies by Nov. 24, which will lead to further discussions with those companies in early December.