Leicester enjoys a relatively impressive provision of public toilets. Compared to nearby cities, toilets are one of the things which for some reason Leicester does really well.
There’s no map of all the toilets in the city. There is a list on the city council website, but the descriptions are vague, you can’t use that information to pinpoint exactly where all the facilities are. So, I sent in a Freedom of Information request for the full list with co-ordinates.
The city council sent back a spreadsheet, although the co-ordinates they gave aren’t accurate enough. I went through and looked up proper locations. My list is generally accurate, keeping in mind I haven’t visited all of these in person, and I’m not going out of my way to do that either.
I’m not exclusively interested in toilets at this point. I was motivated to try out embedding maps on this site in a structured way, and this was my excuse to have another go at using the leaflet map library. So, I put together a toilet map, hopefully it’s visible below:
If you’re in Leicester and this has actually helped you find your nearest toilet, I can rest easy knowing I haven’t wasted the multiple evenings it took to make this.
If you’re not in Leicester, my dad made a web service which shows the nearest toilet/water fountain/cafe. It’s called nearby dot cafe. Easy-to-remember url, shows you all the nearby cafes, doesn’t steal your personal information. Go check it out!
Alternatively, there’s this national map promoted by the British Toilet Association.
Why are toilets important?
I live close to one of these toilets, and it makes me kind of proud to see it there. When you live somewhere with public toilets which are free, clean, accessible, and abundant, that acts as a quick measure for the quality of public services in the city.
In Milwaukee, the historic example of socialist local government was defined above all else by clean and well-maintained sewer systems. This is of course a joke, but it also hits on how the labour movement fought to create cleaner and more sanitary living environments. The toilet revolution is real.
On the other hand, some people actively campaign for public toilets to be closed, arguing that these encourage crime and anti-social behaviour.
Would there be less crime in Leicester if the public toilets were all closed?
Would that make the city more attractive?
And more importantly, where would people go to poo when they’re away from home?