Though it may seem that the design of a washroom should be relatively straightforward, there are some considerations that may be not being so obvious. These include crime prevention and impediments to vandalism. The British Toilet Association (Yes, there is such a group. www.britloos.co.uk) provides a document that provides information about design, operation, and management of public toilets. Download Publicly Available Toilets: Problem Reduction Guide. (Getting to where you want to go!) http://www.britloos.co.uk/publications/probredguide.php
Several factors contribute to the need for such a publication. When public facilities were first built in Britain, they often were placed in hidden locations to protect public sensibility. Unfortunately hidden means that these facilities have often been used for rather unsavory activities. Another issue is that, after legislation required access for people with disabilities, many toilets became outdated and were closed. This meant that there are fewer public washrooms. This guide helps architects and managers think of public toilets as a part of all public venues—whether streets, parks, or any building accessible to the general population.
Just as with any other building, toilet location is key to successful use. Visibility and accessibility is of prime importance. Visible washrooms mean that:
- There are fewer opportunities for vandalism.
- A community’s sense of ownership of a local facility may limit problems.
- Children are safer when their play areas, and therefore, their public toilets, can be seen.
- Higher levels of passersby mean that more eyes are on the facility.
Most of us never consider that crime prevention at a toilet is a major issue. But simple guidelines can greatly improve the safety of both the users and the fixtures. These guidelines include:
- Keep the entrance visible, facing the street or car park, etc.
- Locate near high-traffic areas.
- Avoid blind corners.
- Plant shrubbery that will not grow more than one metre high.
- Keep any landscaping well maintained and attractive (this discourages vandalism).
- Use only open enclosures to reduce places for loitering (e.g. mesh fencing).
- Keep pathways open so there are no opportunities for lurking.
- Allow up-close parking only for disabled persons.
- Provide some secure place to anchor bicycles or even prams.
- Keep lighting sufficient for a crime deterrent and distributed so that there are not shadows.
- Provide readable signage about usage, open times, and directions to other facilities. Clear signs encourage users, keeping the opportunity for vandalism low.
- Include the locations of public toilets on tourist maps, websites, and municipal information sites.
All of these recommendations are aimed toward the provision of a pleasant washroom that will be well maintained, which definitely helps discourage vandalism. The idea is to make the toilet as welcoming as possible; the greater the traffic, the lower the incidence of crime.
Well-maintained public toilets must include basic supplies needed by users. This includes clean hand washing sinks, Clean Water Saving Taps, adequate and clean dispensers for soap and hand sanitizers, hot air hand dryers or paper towels, and constantly available toilet tissue. Regular cleaning and sanitation are important. A poorly maintained facility does encourage vandalism, and, unfortunately, criminal behavior.
Chloe enjoys writing, and currently works as a writer. One day, Chloe would like to have her own novel published which she is working on in her free time.
Photo Credit: spDuchamp
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