’Ur In Luck’ New Yorkers: City To Expand Bathroom Access

A woman reads the information panel on a public toilet located in Herald Square in New York City on Aug. 13, 2003. Credit - Stephen Chernin—Getty Images

If you’ve ever struggled to find a public bathroom in New York City, “Ur In Luck.” Mayor Eric Adams just announced that the city is embarking on a new effort to expand access to public bathrooms across all five boroughs.

Adams launched the project, called “Ur In Luck,” on Monday. Over the next five years, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) will build 46 new restrooms and renovate 36 existing ones, according to the city’s press release.

“Part of making New York City a more livable city is tackling the little things—the things we don’t think about until we need them,” Adams said in the press release. “Access to public restrooms is high on that list, maybe even number one or two.”

The city currently has nearly 1,000 restrooms that serve its population of about 8 million people. Research indicates that people’s quality of life and well-being improves when high-quality restrooms are accessible, and that it helps reduce health hazards like public defecation and urination.

Of the 82 new or renovated bathrooms, 10 will be placed in the Bronx, 23 in Brooklyn, 28 in Manhattan, 14 in Queens, and seven on Staten Island. The 36 restrooms that will be renovated will get additional stalls, accessibility upgrades, and energy efficient features, according to the press release.

“Need a bathroom, ‘ur in’ luck!” Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi said in the press release. “Everyone—seniors, parents with kids, anyone enjoying the day outdoors, needs access to a public bathroom without having to buy anything or beg for a code. Public bathrooms are critical infrastructure for New York City, where people are always out and about. We’re making New York City a little easier and more livable, one public restroom at a time.”

Read More: Why Bathroom Access Is a Public Health Issue

The city introduced a new Google Maps layer for people to use on their phones to find the locations of every public restroom operated by agencies and civic institutions citywide. The Google Maps layer will be updated biannually, the press release said.

The city is also creating a joint task force to help in siting and fast-tracking approvals for 14 new high-tech, self-cleaning automatic public toilets on city sidewalks and plazas, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Coordinated Street Furniture franchisee JCDecaux, according to the press release.

NYC Parks has already opened seven new public restrooms in the past five months at the following spots: Bronx Point/Mill Pond Park and Starlight Park in the Bronx, Frederick Johnson Playground and Highbridge Park Adventure Playground in Manhattan, Maspeth Park in Queens, and Lopez Playground on Staten Island.

Previously, NYC Parks finished adding new baby changing tables to all public restrooms in city parks wherever possible—a goal the department touted as being completed more than three years ahead of schedule, according to the press release.

“I have learned through my Got2Go community that New York City’s lack of public restrooms is not only a quality of life and public health issue, but it is an equity crisis,” Teddy Siegel, founder of Got2GoNYC, a TikTok account that helps New Yorkers find free and accessible bathrooms, said in the press release. “The city’s action to tackle this pressing issue is a huge step and will improve the lives of all New Yorkers and tourists!”

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