MD11Bob
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Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:59 pm

... so low on privacy?

Let me explain. Most of the public toilets that I came across in the US (airports, shopping malls, office buildings,...) are very low on privacy, because walls are very small and doors always leave a gap open between the door and the frame.

http://img856.imageshack.us/img856/3016/20120401134147.jpg



I am in no way too uptight, but still find this rather unconfortable when people can see you and also enjoy the accustical accompaniment of big oval office sessions. When I compare this to "normal" public toilets in Europe, the privacy levels are way higher. As an example, a toilet in my office building, which feature closed rooms and tight doors.





Does this have any particular reason? Is it just "the way things are done" over there? Is it to deter drug addicts?
Is it just a cost thing? But then, would costs increase so much by putting in doors that do not leave that open gap?

Please let me know your thoughts... And please, this is a serious question   so please spare me from too many sarcastic comments  

Bob

[Edited 2012-04-14 05:59:50]
 
flipdewaf
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:38 pm

Probably so they can clean them down easier, most seem like that in the UK too.

In Germany I hear that they aren't that private really either, there is people in there taking photos  

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fr8mech
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:43 pm

My guess is that it's a cost and ease of repair thing.

It seems to me that Americans are quite neglectful of our public restrooms, at least those that are out in the 'public' as opposed to those in public buildings.
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falstaff
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:08 pm

Quoting MD11Bob (Thread starter):
Is it just a cost thing?

I am sure that is part of it. Our public toilets are free, for the most part, so you get what you pay for. It probably has been 25 or more years since I used a pay toilet in the US. I have seen them, in a couple big cities, but didn't use them.

Quoting flipdewaf (Reply 1):
Probably so they can clean them down easier

I know it is easier and faster to mop the floors when there is no wall all the way to the floor.

[Edited 2012-04-14 07:16:13]
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Braybuddy
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:10 pm

I would say it's to stop or cut down on people doing things in toilets that toilets were not necessarily invented for. This was brought home to me years ago in San Francisco, where the toilets had doors small enought just to cover the lower part of the body.
 
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:54 pm

Quoting MD11Bob (Thread starter):
When I compare this to "normal" public toilets in Europe, the privacy levels are way higher.

Reminds me of my first encounter with a European public facility a number of years back ('79). Highway rest stop in France & I'm with a school group. Pile off the bus and find the facilities. Men & women coming in & out of both rooms, so the guys figure when in Rome... the girls in the group declined... Go inside... holes in the floor & trough urinals.. no dividers of any sort... lol
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seb146
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:33 pm

Quoting MD11Bob (Thread starter):
this is a serious question so please spare me from too many sarcastic comments

You pose the question and then ask us to not make any sarcastic comments?

Most people probably don't know squat about this subject.

When I went to the main page, this topic was number two on the list.

Seriously: I think it is easier to clean with just a metal plate between the fixtures. No matter where one goes in the United States, they have graffiti. I think it is Pilot Truck Stops that have individual stalls with floor-to-celing walls. I have seen the janitor struggling to clean and restock them. Seems like a huge hassle.

I have a question on a related topic. I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals? That is just more to clean and more to graffiti.
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GuitrThree
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:54 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 6):
I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals?

Splash Guards.
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einsteinboricua
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:55 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 6):
I have a question on a related topic. I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals? That is just more to clean and more to graffiti.

Privacy. Just in case your neighbor decides to take a gander at your gear. Urinals without the dividers make many guys go to the stalls. In my case, I always try to take the one in the corner.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:25 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 4):
This was brought home to me years ago in San Francisco, where the toilets had doors small enought just to cover the lower part of the body.

You really think low doors is going to stop men being men with other men, it sure as hell didn't stop the couple of guys bent over the sink in a public restroom I mistakenly thought was a place to go for a crap, not a shag.
 
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:36 pm

Quoting falstaff (Reply 3):
I am sure that is part of it. Our public toilets are free, for the most part, so you get what you pay for. It probably has been 25 or more years since I used a pay toilet in the US. I have seen them, in a couple big cities, but didn't use them.

I've never used a pay toilet in the US. They did used to have some self cleaning pay toilets in downtown Seattle for a while. The city paid $5 million for 5 of them and they ended up being a haven for prostitution and drug use. They sold on-line for $12K after just 4 years.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2008-08-15-seattle-toilets_N.htm

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 5):
Reminds me of my first encounter with a European public facility a number of years back ('79).

The Mrs. did some work in China a few years ago and took the time to take a picture of the facilities there. I'll have to look for it but my recollection was that it was basically a drain in the middle of the floor leading to a ditch outside the room.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 6):
I have a question on a related topic. I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals? That is just more to clean and more to graffiti.

I think that's been answered with the "splash guard" answer but I'm interested how that differs from European urinals?
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:05 pm

Quoting MD11Bob (Thread starter):
walls are very small and doors always leave a gap open between the door and the frame.

How else do you suggest Republican Senators get their fun?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Craig_scandal
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zippyjet
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:17 am

Many of the reasons covered above plus economics of scale. In the states if it doesn't make money keep it minimal. Space is a premium in most buildings. For example your average USA airport concourse/terminal. In the 50's and early 60's in airports such as ATL and MIA the passenger waiting areas/holding/gates were walled/partitioned off from each other. Old concourse H at MIA was a classic example until it's redo in the late 90's. Once the walls came down there was more room for retail outlets. Back to toilets. In the olden days there was an outer lounge that was like a parlour especially for the ladies. I remember the Senator and defunct Crest Theatre in Baltimore had enormous lounges for both men and women formal sitting areas.

And I remember working at a now defunct Pappy's Pizza. I asked one of the managers why the bathrooms were not as air conditioned/heated as the restaurant. He said the answer was simple: "We don't want our customers making the toilets their living room/hangout joint!"

In America like many other things our culture is time sensitive & hurry up . The bathroom is a basic necessity not anything else but.
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NoUFO
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:39 am

At least hospitals in the U.S. allow more privacy than it is usual in Germany. I have been to 4 hospitals here, and only in one of them was there a curtain around my bed. I hear this is standard in the U.S. which I think it should really be.
In Germany, the staff would move you and your bed to another separated room to examine you, but frankly there is no guarantee. I find curtains around hospital beds more important than full doors in public restrooms.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:43 am

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 10):
The Mrs. did some work in China a few years ago and took the time to take a picture of the facilities there. I'll have to look for it but my recollection was that it was basically a drain in the middle of the floor leading to a ditch outside the room.

The public toilets here have very, very inconsistent hygiene levels. In some poorer parts of town, you'll find toilets just like this. However, if you go to some renovated facilities, or the ones in a nicer part of town, you'll find free public toilets that look much nicer than the all public toilets I've ever seen in Europe. Those nice toilets always have very high levels of privacy, with high walls, and fully segregated booths.

I hope the government would try to make the public toilet service much more consistent. As of now, some public toilets can really give China a very bad impression...
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NoUFO
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:45 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 11):
How else do you suggest Republican Senators get their fun?

And how could (bass player) Tony Levin crack jokes about it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fuQBmi6Ca4

By the way: No need to ask him why he didn't wash his hands. I already did but never got a response.
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seb146
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:47 am

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 8):
Just in case your neighbor decides to take a gander at your gear.

I didn't realize this was an issue.

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 10):
but I'm interested how that differs from European urinals?

Are Ameicans more splashy?
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:51 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 11):
How else do you suggest Republican Senators get their fun?

They now have secret rooms/chambers at their "restricted" Country Clubs, Gun shops and those bible thumpic religious emporiums or houses of worship.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:04 am

Quoting seb146 (Reply 6):
Most people probably don't know squat about this subject.

+1 for the use of the word "squat" in a thread about public restrooms! 
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:30 am

Quoting seb146 (Reply 16):
Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 8):
Just in case your neighbor decides to take a gander at your gear.

I didn't realize this was an issue.

Maybe not where you live, but I've actually seen when there are no divisions people next to others turning their heads. Plus, many have also told me it's just how they feel. Can't blame them, though.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:48 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 16):
Are Ameicans more splashy?

Roll into a mens bathroom at a big event, like a football game, where the urinals are lined up without the partitions with flip-flops on. I dare you!
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kingairta
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:19 pm

I've been in a few places where the urinal was a wall length tub you did your business in. Some places the urinal was a concrete trench along the wall. Those allowed more men through at a time and kept the lines shorter.

As to the original topic I believe its cost driven.
 
seb146
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:58 am

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 20):
like a football game, where the urinals are lined up without the partitions with flip-flops on. I dare you!

Baseball in PHX or HOU.
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Geezer
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:34 am

[quote=Braybuddy,reply=4]I would say it's to stop or cut down on people doing things in toilets that toilets were not necessarily invented for. This was brought home to me years ago in San Francisco, where the toilets had doors small enought just to cover the lower part of the body.

Brabuddy............You have it exactly right ! And San Fran ? I wouldn't expect you to be aware of this, but S.F. is quite "famous / infamous" in this country for something "other" than the Golden Gate Bridge; (if you get my drift !)

[quote=seb146,reply=6]I have a question on a related topic. I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals?

That reminds me of a supposedly "true story" I once heard; Little scrawney 15 yr old boy goes in men's room at ball park, lines up a "trough" with other guys; sneaks a peek at the guy beside him, sees this ENORMOUS big black guy, (about 8 ft tall), and "can't help" noticing what the guy is holding; about this time, the giant looks down, "damn, he caught me looking", I gotta "say something"..........all he can think of is........."ugh......man, what's your name?" Guy says, (in this incredible deep voice, like Darth Vader, only deeper)......."BEN BROWN"; whereupon the kid feints, dead in his tracks ! Big guy splashes some water in his face, gets him "revived"..........kid looks back up, says...."what you say your name was ? "BEN BROWN" This time kid lets out a big "whewwwwww"......."Man, I thought you said BEND DOWN !"

[quote=NoUFO,reply=13]At least hospitals in the U.S. allow more privacy than it is usual in Germany. I have been to 4 hospitals here, and only in one of them was there a curtain around my bed. I hear this is standard in the U.S. which I think it should really be.
In Germany, the staff would move you and your bed to another separated room to examine you, but frankly there is no guarantee. I find curtains around hospital beds more important than full doors in public restrooms.


NoUFO...............Next time you're in the States, if you think there's a chance you'll need to go to a hospital, make sure you're in Terre Haute, Indiana, then "insist" on Union Hospital, (not Regional Hospital) They just completed the new wing about 18 months ago, and I guarantee, you'll love it ! All rooms are PRIVATE, with ONE bed (for the patient) No "visiting hours"........you can "come and go" 24 / 7, and each room even has a very comfortable chair that is a "recliner", kind of a "hide-a-chair" if you will; (I spent several nights on it while Miss Arlie was a "guest" for 12 days.)
The rest room / bath room is huge, the commode has a little arm with a "mini-shower head" on the end that swings down, pointing into the toilet, and when it flushes, the thing directs a "substantial stream" at the opening where "everything" goes, just in case "anything" get s stuck; The shower is like 4 ft square, with a nice seat, so you can enjoy your shower while sitting down. And the bed.............I can't even describe the things, they do so many different things; from the looks of them, I'm guessing they must run 3 or 4 K; and then there is the food; there is no "meal time fhone the cafeteria, place your order for what you want, the dietitian checks it against the Doctors orders, and a server brings it up, just like a restaurant. (Many former patients come to the hospital just to have dinner, the food's so good.

In addition to all this, all of the nurses are fabulous, and all of the Doctors are great ! (At least the 4 attending to Arlene were)

I've had occasion to use the ER 5 or 6 times, both the "original" one, and the new one at the new wing; My conclusion............if i got sick in Hpng Kong, and I required an ER (or admittance), I would grab the first jet to Indianapolis, and take an ambulance (or a cab) to Terre Haute, and instruct the driver......."Union Hospital" please !"
It's just that ****** good !

Charley
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:01 am

So long as their are dividers between the urinals and doors on the toilet stalls and the bathroom is clean I'm happy. When I was in high school and even in college their where no urinal dividers and when I was in middle school, their where no doors to the toilet stalls and no toilet paper was available.
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Geezer
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:58 am

All of this talk about toilets just reminded me of another "toilet room joke;

Ohio State Buckeyes were playing the sissies from Harvard; at half time a bunch of guys are in the men's room, taking a whiz; guy from Ohio State walks up, whips out, takes whiz, shakes off, put it away, zips up, and heads out the door; about this time, a sissie from Harvard "observes" this, says, "I say old chap......at Haaahvad they teach us to wash our hands after urinating" ! "That so", replies guy from O.S.........."at Ohio State they teach us not to piss on our hands"!

And getting back to "American Toilets"...........if you had been cruising the Interstates in Ohio back in the 70's and 80's, and you pulled into an Interstate rest area to "relieve yourself" you would have found yourself in a fully functioning, public "outhouse", with a porcelain cylinder (with no seat), to "sit on, or pee into" a big round hole in the cement floor, below which was a large "pit" (which required pumping out from time to time). Good old "Buckeye State", one of the countries most prosperous, industrialized states, (and last state in the U.S. to cough up bucks and install flush toilets at rest areas on Interstates.

Charley
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:22 am

Quoting geezer (Reply 23):
Brabuddy............You have it exactly right ! And San Fran ? I wouldn't expect you to be aware of this, but S.F. is quite "famous / infamous" in this country for something "other" than the Golden Gate Bridge; (if you get my drift !)

Why do you think I was there . . .  
 
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falstaff
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:17 pm

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 20):
Roll into a mens bathroom at a big event, like a football game, where the urinals are lined up without the partitions with flip-flops on. I dare you!


even with partitions it is usually gross. But I'm one of those guys who drinks a lot of beer and pees on the floor anyway.

Quoting KingairTA (Reply 21):
I've been in a few places where the urinal was a wall length tub you did your business in. Some places the urinal was a concrete trench along the wall. Those allowed more men through at a time and kept the lines shorter



I like those kind too, you can squeeze a lot of guys in and keep the line short. When I used to hit the dirt track speedways I always liked getting in and out fast, so I didn't miss any racing action.

Quoting 2707200X (Reply 24):
no toilet paper was available


What kind of middle school did you go to? My Junior High school had square toilet paper spools. A round roll was jammed onto a square spool. It was impossible to unroll the paper the normal way. It took forever to get enough paper to.... I remember seeing that the "spool" had a US patent on it. I always wondered who would invent such a stupid device. I get why it was there, to keep TP from being wasted, but I have been in lots of schools over the years and never seen anything like it ever again.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 16):
Are Ameicans more splashy?


No... The most revolting toilets I ever have seen are usually in the rural pubs I visit in northern England. I don't mind because I drink at sad bars at home too.
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seb146
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:28 pm

Quoting falstaff (Reply 27):
But I'm one of those guys who drinks a lot of beer and pees on the floor anyway.

Let me know when you are up this way. So I can be someplace else.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:32 pm

Quoting falstaff (Reply 27):
What kind of middle school did you go to?

I went to a standard suburban middle school in Long Beach, CA between 1992 when I moved from Rancho Cucamonga and '94 when I graduated to high school. They did not say why they took the toilet paper away and in this case also the paper towels and stall doors but it was common to see paper towels and toilet paper being thrown and stuck to the ceiling and the stall doors where always busted.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:35 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 28):
Let me know when you are up this way. So I can be someplace else.


Most of it makes it in the bowl....  
Quoting 2707200X (Reply 29):
but it was common to see paper towels and toilet paper being thrown and stuck to the ceiling


We have the same problem at the school where I work, but they sure has hell aren't getting rid of the toilet paper. I can imagine uproar in the community and at the school board meetings.

Quoting 2707200X (Reply 29):
the stall doors where always busted.


We don't have the problem, but the students like to draw and write stuff on them. I like to use the student toilets from time to time just to read the new things on the walls. Most of the stuff they write is gross and juvenile, but it is funny.
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babybus
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:44 pm

That does seem odd that some person can look over the door and ask if you're done. I think it stops people taking their time over a dump.

I remember in Florida at one hotel the stalls had no doors at all, even in the ladies loo.

In the UK it would be almost impossible to find a toilet cubical without total privacy.
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:48 pm

Quoting MD11Bob (Thread starter):
MD11Bob From Germany, joined Mar 2010, 101 posts, RR: 1
Posted Sat Apr 14 2012 09:59:18 your local time (3 days 2 hours 46 minutes ago) and read 1435 times:

... so low on privacy?

They maybe low on privacy, but they're the best. At least in Manhattan...
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gunsontheroof
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:24 am

Lots of good insight here. Having been across the U.S. and a fair bit of Europe, I've seen it all. I have to say that I don't really find the average men's room in Europe to be substantially better than what I've seen in the U.S. I've definitely seen facilities like the more private ones pictured in the OP, but I've also been to bus stations in Bratislava and Brasov that rivaled the very worst of what I've seen in the U.S. (which, sparing the details, is pretty bad). I've found that it's hard to predict what you're in for no matter where you are. Having spent some time on the road in the U.S., I've learned that it's best to save your more...err..."pressing" appointments for when you stop off at the big-box stores for groceries/supplies. The facilities are dependebly better than what you'll find at the state rest stop, fast-food joint, etc. Gas stations can be surprisingly good these days as well.

All that being said, the nicest facilites I've ever encountered HAVE been in Western Europe/Scandinavia.

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 20):
Roll into a mens bathroom at a big event, like a football game, where the urinals are lined up without the partitions with flip-flops on. I dare you!
Quoting KingairTA (Reply 21):
I've been in a few places where the urinal was a wall length tub you did your business in.

Anyone else ever take a leak at the Kingdome in Seattle back in its day? I assume most U.S. stadiums of the same era were similar...

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 26):
Why do you think I was there . . .

Saw that one coming!   
 
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:56 am

 
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RE: Why Are American Public Toilets....

Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:52 am

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 2):
It seems to me that Americans are quite neglectful of our public restrooms, at least those that are out in the 'public' as opposed to those in public buildings.

I actually think, on balance, its the opposite. While there are some distressing public restrooms in the US, I find ours are usually cleaner and higher on the privacy than those in other countries.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 6):
I have a question on a related topic. I will put it as delicatly as possible: why are there metal plates between urinals? That is just more to clean and more to graffiti.

Um, privacy is a huge one.

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 10):
I've never used a pay toilet in the US. They did used to have some self cleaning pay toilets in downtown Seattle for a while. The city paid $5 million for 5 of them and they ended up being a haven for prostitution and drug use. They sold on-line for $12K after just 4 years

They have had those in France for years. Los Angeles has brought some in, but they are free. They are actually targeted at the homeless and their purpose is to relieve (no pun intended) businesses of the burden of homeless coming in to use their toilets.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss

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