We spent a month in New York a few years ago over the Christmas New Year period and while we loved it we came away bitterly disappointed with New Yorks ability to actually care for its tourists. Its an amazing city but god help you if you have to visit the restroom anywhere in the city limits. You want to go to the loo you put your hand in your pocket for $10 for a beer or a coffee or something that gets you inside a cafe or restaurant simply to use their bathroom. At the time we were appalled at the lack of public amenities and it does actually affect your day. You don't leave anywhere without using the loo because who knows when you will see another one. There are none at train stations and even the likes of Macca's have token operated restrooms, which is fine - I don't mind paying but even those are few and far between.
While it seems quite standardized in New York and locals say that the train stations have never really had restrooms, how much of it had changed since 9/11 we wondered. Likewise if you have a piece of rubbish - there's nowhere to put it. You just have to carry it home with you. No bins - bins can be turned into bombs. No loo's because I'm assuming people abuse the facilities. I don't know for sure but that's just my impression.
Australia has sadly followed almost the same path. Public restrooms are becoming more and more scarce and while outside the built up area's its less noticable, bins are also getting to be a thing of the past. I couldn't tell you the amount of times we have commented that the lack of bins is causing what used to be a litter free country to be less so simply because we are what - scared of being bombed??
Likewise with bins. There are bins everywhere. Bins for burnables. Bins for cans. Bins for PET bottles. They are everywhere and there is not a single piece of litter to be seen.
Everyone comments on how cultured the Japanese society is. Sure they are - its inherent to their lifestyle but its also their ability to not let their culture be influenced by fear that sets Japan apart. Their consideration for themselves as a society has meant that they will not, and have not, bowed to pressure to conform to post 9/11 safety standards. Japan is without a doubt one of the safest places on earth, but is that because their society remains confident and invested in itself? Is that because their strength of will to treat every single person in Japan with respect has overridden the fear that some of the west operate with on a day to day basis.
Its not like Japan hasn't had attacks because they have, but they have stood firm, maintained their dignity and refused to be coerced into lessening their publicly available service.
With the unemployment in the US and having a minimum wage setup anyway, why can't they establish tourist facilities with permanent attendants? Surely if we all paid $1 to use the facility the cost of maintenance would be well and truely covered, an extra person would be employed and the city could push the profit to the homeless or some other worthy cause.
New York - get your shit together.
Japan I salute you.