Bonn A woman from Bonn has dealt with the topic of public toilets in her masters thesis and bemoans the bad situation in the city centre. Politicians also see a need for action.
Nice weather and open shops attract more people to the city centre again. But if you want to go to the toilet there, the situation does not look so good. The public toilet, which has been located at Remigiusplatz since the end of 2019, is far from adequate. At least that's the view of Martine Kayser from Bonn, who dealt with the lack of public toilets in her masters thesis.
"I think public toilets are a very neglected topic," says Kayser. And in times of Corona it is not as if the need to urinate simply disappears. „People weren’t allowed to meet at home any more. I have already had to experience several times how I and other people in the city have got into very uncomfortable situations because the possibilities are very limited.“ The situation is even worse for elderly people, pregnant or menstruating persons, children and people with urinary tract diseases. "In addition to the many restrictions in everyday life and certain difficult individual situations that the pandemic has brought with it, there is an additional burden".
The focus of her masters thesis is on a gender-specific perspective. "Toilets with seats cost something, those with urinals are free. For example at Remigius Square." Kayser believes that only „wild urinating“ is considered a problem. "Urinals are free because payment morale is very poor", she argues. "If new toilets are built, there should be more urinals than sit-down toilets."
SPD politician calls for public toilets in every city
Fenja Wittneven-Welter, city councillor of the SPD faction, also sees a need for action on the part of the city of Bonn regarding the situation around public toilets. Two years ago, the city administration had four potential locations in mind: Remigiusplatz, Hofgarten, long-distance bus stop on the Museum Mile and underground station in Ramersdorf. So far only Remigiusplatz has been built. "It really takes the pressure off the city centre. That's what we needed," Wittneven-Welter tells the GA. "Even if there were discussions if it's pretty."
But that's not enough. "There should be a public toilet in every part of the city," Wittneven-Welter says. And even with those that are already in the city, there are points of criticism. For example, those at Bertha von Suttner Platz. "You think everything is going well, but it's not." There have been complaints from neighbouring shops that it gets very smelly there. That's why the city council had announced, "If we do this, we do it properly" for the construction of new public toilets.
The city council has earmarked two million Euro from its budget for the construction of the new toilets, said press spokeswoman Andrea Schulte when asked. "The administration is currently still checking the implementation at the respective locations and is coordinating the implementation of the measures in accordance with the decision. The first installation was the toilet facility on Remigiusplatz in December.“
Bert Moll, spokesman for planning policy of the CDU, sees "absolute need for action". "We have elderly people on the streets. For them there are definitely too few facilities. In Duisdorf, for example, the toilet at the church was repaired at the CDU's instigation. "But it is often very dirty.“
He therefore sees an urgent need for self-cleaning toilets. "The council should continue its efforts.“ He welcomes the fact that the toilet on Remigiusplatz was built at the end of last year. "This shows that the citizens' suggestions have been taken up. But a needs assessment has not yet been done." Hartwig Lohmeyer of the Green Party sees the broken toilet at the Alter Zoll as a big nuisance. It must be repaired urgently, says the Greens' planning spokesman.
The outrage of GA reader Eva Meria Keuchel shows that the citizens of Bonn are not at all satisfied with the situation. "All public toilets in the city centre are firmly locked", she writes, "neither in the department stores nor in the gastronomy can visitors to the city centre of Bonn go to a toilet or wash their hands". If they could do that, people would really like to stroll through the streets for hours in a relaxed manner and support the local economy with their private purchases, she adds ironically.
However, the city rarely receives complaints about the lack of toilets. "There is no significant number of complaints from the citizens," says Schulte. "In the past, there have been sporadic hints from tourists that more toilets are desirable. The administration is confident that with the implementation of the agreed measures, this need can also be satisfactorily met in the future.
The city answers the question of whether there are enough public toilets in Bonn with a clear yes. "In addition to the public toilets at Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz, Münsterplatz, the kiosk at the KD jetty and Stadtgarten, public toilet facilities are available at the newly built kiosk on Remigiusplatz. These are supplemented by public toilets in the Stadthaus and various shops in the city centre.
Public toilets with kiosk at Remigiusplatz cost 360,000 Euro
Public toilets are usually a loss making business for the city. To the question of how much it cost last year, the city has not yet provided an answer. "Unfortunately, the investigation is proving more complex than expected," Schulte from the press office said. The construction of the public toilet on Remigiusplatz plus kiosk cost 360,000 Euro. It is clear to Martine Kayser that this means much more expenditure than income. "I know they cost a lot and don't bring in much. These days people think very economically. But if people are to come into town and spend money here, they need toilets."
(Original text: Thomas Leurs / Translation: Mareike Graepel)