Get to know the modern public toilets of Madrid

In recent years, the Madrid City Council has installed state-of-the-art public toilets, both in the center and in other tourist places in the city, in order to meet the needs of these services on public roads, thus avoiding pockets of dirt and bad odours.

The fine for urinating in a Madrid street exceeds 700 euros, however, it continues to occur in different areas of the capital, for this reason, it is important to know the existence of new public toilets in strategic places, not only because of the number of passers-by in general, but also due to the presence of certain workers, such as mobility agents, taxi drivers, SER controllers and waste collection personnel, who carry out their work most of the time in the streets and need this service during the day.

The demand for public toilets by citizens

The project to place public toilets had been announced in 2016, during the term of Mayor Manuela Carmena, but it was a year later that it began with the installation of 19 portable toilets in the center of Madrid, which would be the test to see if it was worth worth installing some advanced technology to leave them permanently.

In 2017, the results of the pilot plan for portable toilets were very positive, since the City Council was able to register an average of more than 20,000 uses per week, which showed the need to install fixed public toilets in various places in the city. However, in some cases the portable toilets were vandalized by neighbors, for example, in the Cornisa park and on Arganzuela street.

This first test was financed with an item from the participatory budgets of 2016, on the installation of fountains and public toilets in the city. In this sense, the Popular Party opposed the project as it was considered discriminatory, since some toilets were open and included 4 urinals, so they were exclusively for men. For this reason, these types of toilets were withdrawn from the initiative.

The new public toilets in the streets of the Spanish capital

In 2018 the City Council began to install a new type of public toilet. Unlike a portable toilet, which is basic equipment, this bathroom consists of a folding baby changing table, a self-cleaning toilet and sink, a vandal-proof mirror, a soap dispenser, an odorless bin, a hand dryer and toilet paper, as well as forced ventilation by silent extractor and incorporates ambient music and even a coat rack.

These new bathrooms are fully accessible, since their use has a symbolic cost of 10 cents. However, according to the authorities, the City Council has not had to incur any extraordinary expenses, neither for the installation nor for the maintenance of these public toilets, since they are financed by the companies that advertise their products outside the toilets.

Each user has a total of 15 minutes to perform their basic needs in these public toilets, for this reason, they have an automatic system that indicates the remaining time, since at the end of this period the door opens automatically, with the aim of giving opportunity to another person who needs to use the toilet.

This initiative is framed in the new street furniture of the city, which includes billboards, digital screens and information columns. According to representatives of the Madrid City Council, 350 Wi-Fi wireless network points are also being installed to download tourist, cultural and general interest information in several languages. The public toilets project has been awarded to an urban furniture company called Clear Channel.

Public toilets in Madrid: Success or failure of the City Council?

At first glance it seems that everything is positive, since the installation of these bathrooms aims to solve the lack to avoid sources of dirt, however, not all of them have been a success, since the City Council had promised since 2016 the installation of 130 toilets However, by the end of 2022 there are no clear official figures about how many are really in optimal operation. At this point, it is important to remember that the project is currently in charge of the new mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida, of the PP, a political party that opposed this initiative in its beginnings.

In this regard, the previous administration explained in 2017 that these devices are complex, so they need a special infrastructure to be installed correctly, however, in some cases it is necessary to request authorization from Canal de Isabel II to allow access to the connections of water, which delays the placement of toilets in various places. 

On the other hand, in certain parts of the city a single public bathroom is insufficient, so some people decide to urinate outside the bathroom if it is occupied. In this sense, the residents of some neighborhoods such as Chueca have filed complaints in this regard, since instead of being a solution, the WC becomes an additional problem.

If we pay attention to the opinions outlined by some digital media, we can say that many citizens see this initiative with good eyes, although they think that more public toilets are needed, due to the number of people who live in the capital and the constant transit of national and international tourists. international in the main neighborhoods.

Where to urinate in Madrid?

In addition to fixed public toilets, most outdoor events include the installation of mobile toilets, which although they are not the best portable toilets (in this link you can find some purchase options), they do fully fulfill their function. Therefore, before deciding to urinate in the street, it is always good to check if there is one nearby.

On the other hand, some users of social networks have recommended alternatives to urinate for free in Madrid, highlighting food companies such as 100 Montaditos, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, KFC, Pans, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway, as well as some Metro stations. and shopping malls, which have clean restrooms with toilet paper at any time of the day, so they are a good option to avoid a fine for littering public roads.

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