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2002-07-14
Alexandria, VA. The link between Big Box stores and the lack of bathrooms downtown.

What's the connection between big box sprawl and the lack of public bathrooms in downtown business districts? It may not be the most compelling reason why people shop at malls and big box retailers -- but just try to find a public bathroom in small downtown America. Shoppers may not consciously think about the convenience of mall bathrooms, but a group based in Alexandria, Virginia says that the lack of public bathrooms is just one more reason why downtowns are unattractive to shoppers. According to the Public Restroom Initiative, people "avoid strolling downtown areas that lack public facilities. Enclosed malls have numerous restrooms. Why risk heading into a town with no alternatives? Asking permission to use a restaurant's restroom, when not a customer, is not always an acceptable alternative." The group claims that maintenance of such public toilets is not an insurmountable problem, and would bring more people downtown to shop, which would help pay for the cost of upkeep. "The number one goal of the Public Restroom Initiative is to get the scope of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) expanded to cover all areas, not just the workplace," Brubaker explains. "We expect it will take between 3 to 7 years." That's a long time for the movement to 'hold it in', but Brubaker says that once the federal codes are changed, "it will provide a legislative mandate that requires small towns that have at least x amount of visitors to have at least a chemical toilet nearby. I expect this will help your worthwhile effort to keep older areas commercially viable, and contain sprawl."

What you can do: For more background information on the Public Restroom Initiative, contact Bob Brubaker at www.metroped.org










 
 
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