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How Can Cities Stop Public Urination?

Cities can combat public urination by increasing access to public restrooms, implementing fines, and utilizing deterrents like urine-repellent paint. Education campaigns can also raise awareness about the issue's impact on hygiene and community well-being. What innovative solutions could your city adopt? Join the conversation and share your thoughts on tackling this urban challenge.

So you spent the evening at a pub, having a good time. And now, on the way home, you get an uncontrollable urge to ... relieve yourself. Everyone understands the need to answer the call of nature, but public urination is against the law in many jurisdictions, and it's just plain gross.

Fed up with people in nightlife hotspots using bushes, walls, signs and sidewalks instead of finding a public bathroom, business owners and community groups in the German cities of Hamburg and Cologne took action. They began to paint surfaces around bars with a super-hydrophobic paint that bounces the urine back at the offender. It’s all a rather nasty business, but in some cases, it has successfully deterred public piddling. “People were just tired of the peeing on walls, home entrances and playgrounds,” says a German activist.

Putting a stop to public urination?

  • Liquid-repelling paint was developed by Nissan to keep cars cleaner: The acetone-based coating deflects waterborne grime. The paint uses a pattern of geometric shapes with peaks that direct liquid back at the source.

  • Some German residents think it would be better to provide more public toilets in those areas. The super-hydrophobic paint is not cheap: It costs about $556 USD (€500) to cover a six square-meter area with the paint.

  • Other cities have been mulling the idea. San Francisco, for example, covered nine walls with the paint to test its effectiveness. Detractors, though, point out that urinators can simply pee diagonally and avoid a golden shower.

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    • Some German cities, such as Hamburg's St. Pauli district, have coated walls with a special paint that if peed on, bounces the liquid back on the offender.
      Some German cities, such as Hamburg's St. Pauli district, have coated walls with a special paint that if peed on, bounces the liquid back on the offender.