Women fidgeting in long lines outside public toilets at Metro stations, malls and stadiums, may not be such a common sight once the city's new planning and design standard takes effect. (Jiang Xiaowei)
Calls for more female public toilets have been answered.
Shanghai's new planning and design standard on public toilets — released yesterday — states the ratio of male to female cubicles should be 1 to 2.5 at public toilets "with heavy traffic."
The standard targets newly built, revovated and expanded public toilets.
Under the old standard, effective since 2007, the ratio for most areas was less than 1 to 1.5.
Unisex toilet stalls should be set up at some public toilets, and the number of toilet stalls in women's rest rooms at airports, railway and Metro stations, scenic spots, and department stores should be "at least twice" those of male facilities, according to the standard.
In commercial areas, catering venues, and hospitals, the suggested ratio is at least 1.5:1.
The average ratio of male to female stalls at public toilets in Shanghai is currently estimated to be about 1 to 1.1.
A report by Shanghai Women's Federation found that 59.6 percent of male residents said they seldom needed to queue at public toilets. By contrast, 65.2 percent of female respondents said waiting times ranged from one to five minutes.
"We learnt from international experience and did detailed research during the draft of the new standard," said Yao Gang, deputy director of Shanghai Public Sanitation Environment Monitoring Center.
A research by the Cornell University found that a woman stays in the toilet for about 89 seconds on average, compared to a man taking 39 seconds, according to Yao.
It takes even longer for pregnant women or those having a menstrual period, said Yao.
The time span ratio concluded by the research is about 1 to 2.28, which is almost equal to the ratio raised in the new standard, he added.
In addition, the standard also states unisex stalls should be installed inside toilets at commercial areas, transport hubs, scenic spots, parks, amusement parks, public entertainment venues and hospitals.
Shanghai has more than 2,600 public toilets, and most of them could not reach the standard, the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said. Renovation and expansion is needed, the bureau added.
At 159 Zhongshan No.1 Road, the center of the Bund, there are 12 cubicles for men and 17 for women at a public toilet.
"Summer night is the peak due to a travel boom and sometimes female tourists have to queue for an hour, but it is a totally different case for men who usually don't need to queue most of the time," a toilet cleaner surnamed Qin said.
Zhao Nan, a female tourist from Shanxi Province, said she had to queue more than 15 minutes at a public toilet in Pudong's Lujiazui area, home to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, on Sunday.
"My husband quickly walked out from the male toilet and he had to wait for me," said Zhao.
Foreigners, meanwhile, complained about the hygiene conditions of toilets in Shanghai.
Celine Chanut from France, said "there are a lot of toilets in Shanghai and it is easy to find one. But hygiene is a problem."