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New phone app Peesy helps you find public toilets in Brussels

06:10 29/06/2021

Anyone who has been 'caught short' in Brussels will know that finding a working or open public toilet in an emergency situation is like finding a needle in a haystack. The myriad signs dotted around the capital may point to a place of relief but in most cases, you’ll be left crossing your legs and cursing your luck.

A recent report shows that there are only 175 public toilets in the Brussels-Capital region. Of those, only 60% of them are accessible to women. Many are unusable or poorly equipped. Not only does this make life uncomfortable for those needing to go, but it also denies homeless people one of the few places where they can attend to their personal hygiene on the streets.

However, help is at hand through a new mobile phone app which shows you which toilets are nearby and operational. Peesy, which is only currently available on Android phones, offers filters in its search allowing users to find free public toilets or open toilets which require a fee, and how much you’ll need to pay to "spend a penny".

The app, which remains focused on the capital for the time being, also tells you the opening hours of the toilets available, whether they provide accessibility to people with reduced mobility, or those with prams and strollers, and whether they are equipped with sinks. Peesy also lists free drinking water fountains. There are 93 of them throughout the Brussels region.

"Beyond the fact that there are few public toilets in the Brussels-Capital region, one of the problems is also to know where they are, hence the idea of identifying them and reporting their condition," explained Teresa Iglesias Lopez, the designer of the Peesy app, who developed the idea in collaboration with the Free University of Brussels and with the Street Nurses association.

"There are filters that everyone can use to either find toilets that are free or just see which ones are accessible. To be able to use the toilets, you must first know where they are. As we looked further into this, we realised that a census of public toilets at the regional level simply did not exist."

While Peesy may not be quite as glamourous as apps that show you the best bars, restaurants or even beaches, it is probably just as useful – or even more so.

Written by Nick Amies