Portable Toilet Truck at Madison & Washington Place

I rode my bike back to the Baltimore Book Fair today, this time to meet G. and B. for a quick stroll and then pizza. I was going to blog about some of the great things I saw–maybe the wonderful paintings on East Monument or the jaw-dropping fancy of the Peabody Library, but what really got me today were these mobile toilet trucks set up at the spoke ends of the street festival. They actually feel like regular old bathrooms. You climb the little stairs (ok, so that’s a problem for folks who can’t walk up stairs, so we need to work on that) and inside are several private stalls (at least on the women’s side) with pedals  to flush using just a little bit of water. There are even full sinks to wash up afterward. They drive them in and then drive them out where I’m going to assume they are cleaned and readied for redeployment. It is clearly possible to have a public restroom that is functional and dignified and doesn’t smell terrible, and we expect facilities in public when we are going to be part of that public for a few hours. Why can’t we have these where people need them all the time? As Dean Spade said in his talk yesterday, there are so many ways we criminalize people just for being poor, arresting folks for peeing on the street rather than  making facilities available for those who don’t have access to private bathrooms or the money to buy something in exchange for using a bathroom in public. We could do something different. And then I got back on my bike and rode back up the hill on virtually empty streets, another Sunday in the city.

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