Parisians are upset with their city government because it has installed something that is simply not chic in the City of Light: completely exposed urinals.
In order to deal with men who simply can’t control themselves (women need not apply), four bright red “urinoirs” have been installed in places where public urinating has become a problem. CNN notes that nearby signs point out the presence of the urinals.
The urinals have floral displays on top of them that contain straw that can be changed into compost for use in parks and gardens.
One such urinal now stands on the Ile Saint-Louis, near Notre Dame Cathedral and overlooking the Seine.
Parisians are unhappy with the situation, as The New York Post reports:
Paola Pellizzari, 68, owner of a Venetian art store: “There’s no need to put something so immodest and ugly in such an historic spot. It’s beside the most beautiful townhouse on the island, the Hotel de Lauzun, where Baudelaire lived." Pellizzari added that the urinal, which stands roughly 20 yeards from an elementary school, “incites exhibitionism.”
An owner of a nearby art gallery snapped, “It’s horrible. We’re told we have to accept this but this is absolutely unacceptable. It’s destroying the legacy of the island. Can’t people behave?”
The city offered a statement regarding the urinals in which it said:
The interest of this new urban furniture lies in its mobility, ease of installation and use, as well as in its ecological dimension. … The uritrottoir, an intelligent pissotiere, makes it possible to compost and grow flowers. Unlike a classic urinal type "shells", urine is valued through a first filtering with straw, limiting unpleasant odors. Straw and urine are then collected and composted, allowing the recovery of naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphate in large amounts in the urine. Ultimately, this device allows the urine to return to fertilize the plants.
The designer of the “Uritrottoir” claimed the urinal was an “eco solution to public peeing.” Local mayor Ariel Weil argued, “If we don’t do anything, then men are just going to pee in the streets. If it is really bothering people, we will find another location.”
Gwendoline Coipeault of the French feminist group Femmes Solidaires offered the feminist perspective: “They have been installed on a sexist proposition: men cannot control themselves (from the bladder point of view) and so all of society has to adapt. The public space must be transformed to cause them minimum discomfort. It’s absurd, no one needs to urinate in the street.”