Restrooms are awesome. Fact. In college, I once lived in a house with seven other people in five bedrooms, all sharing one bathroom. Somehow, there was never a problem, except for this one time during finals week, but that’s not important now. What’s important is what was in that bathroom. It had everything one could hope for; from a shower tub to a sink, bathroom mat, window for ventilation, plenty of lights, a good mirror and a washer/dryer unit. It was also larger than my first Chicago apartment. Now the washer and dryer are not all that relevant when discussing public restrooms, I just wanted to add that in so you got the picture.
So the question is, what do you want in a public restroom? I’ve been asking this question for a while now, and I’ve gotten a variety of answers. What’s interesting is that different people care about different things. Myself, I’m never happy with single stall restrooms unless they’re of the unisex, single-shooter, variety. I don’t want to be the only one doing number two. That may sound weird, but I prefer the company of others so that I cannot be singled out for doing my business. I also prefer paper towels over hot air dryers, unless the dryer is the sweet new Dyson type and I’m not in a rush. Paper towels are nice because you can dry at your own pace, and you can always take an extra one or two with you. I like do-it-yourself type faucets and soap dispensers, as the automatic ones rarely function properly. I once saw an automatic soap dispenser at a fancy hotel in San Diego that was improperly aligned or something and would continue to shoot out soap as you rinsed your hands, leaving a slimy ooze pool all over the side of the sink. The last thing I would add is stall doors that go all the way to the floor, and dividing walls at the urinals. This may not be great for cleaning the restroom, but it is great for feelings of privacy and safety. There’s a rest area off I-64 in West Virginia that’s nailed this concept, and I used to stop there every chance I got.
Please feel free to leave a comment, or your answer to what do you want in a public restroom. I think there’s not enough user input into what should be there, or how restrooms should be designed. Importance is placed on price (make it cheap) and capacity (urinal troughs) rather than comfort and safety. Perhaps if there was a more active voice advocating public restroom policy, somebody would care.