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Innovation of the Week: Sidewalk urinals

A “Uritrottior” along the Seine river in Paris.
A “Uritrottior” along the Seine river in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

What is it? Sidewalk urinals

Innovator : City of Paris

What were they thinking? Strolling along the Seine, right up to Notre Dame Cathedral, is one of Paris’ great pleasures. But too often, it’s fouled by the sight and stench of public urination. So the city has taken action: installing totally exposed, eco-friendly urinals along the river and in a handful of other heavily trafficked sections of the city. Resembling cement trash cans, with a couple of small, red wings for privacy, it’s not entirely clear what they’re for — until you spot the large white and red sign above, with a cartoon of man peeing.

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Did it work? The “Uritrottior,” a portmanteau of the French words for urinal and pavement, has sparked a bit of a backlash. “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,” Gwendoline Coipeault of the feminist group Femmes Solidaires told Reuters. “The public space must be transformed to cause them minimum discomfort.” But Laurent Labot, a designer of the Uritrottior, says something had to be done. “Drunk blokes,” he told The Guardian, “just keep pissing.”