You’ve no doubt heard of Uber and Lyft, and maybe heard news stories about the sharing economy. But here’s a news item that some (non-runners) might put in the “over-sharing” category.
A pair of runners in the Seattle area has launched a Porta-Potty sharing company. The idea is to make great running routes even better by strategically placing bathrooms along the route, but reserving them for those who subscribe to their service. Called “On The Run Restrooms,” the company has placed 18 potties around the metro area, all of which are locked with a realtor box. When a runner needs to “go,” they simply text a number to the designated number and the lock is remotely disabled for five minutes.
The cities of Seattle, Bothell, and Everett are allowing the company to situate these potties on city land. “The incidents of “just going wherever” have dropped dramatically along these popular running routes,” says Steve Scheitzer of the Bothell City Works Department. “After the ‘Mad Pooper’ incident in Colorado, we received a number of calls from homeowners whose kitchen windows overlooked these trails. Sometimes they’d be washing dishes, look out the window, and see … well, more than they bargained for. So when Duke and Yen-Dung called us with this idea, we knew it was a good move.”
Duke and Yen-Dung are the founders of “On the Run Restrooms,” and are avid runners themselves. Both are members of the Seattle-based Marathon Maniacs and together log upwards of 100 miles most weeks. “It’s acceptable to run into a coffee shop just to use the bathroom,” says Duke. “But I know many runners who feel a little guilty about stinking up the joint and not even buying a coffee. This is a great solution.”
He and Yen-Dung started the company after a run during which they ran past a guy wearing only one sock. While they admit there could be any number of reasons for him to be wearing just one sock, they agree that the most likely cause was the sock being sacrificed as toilet paper for a mid-run emergency.
Only four months after founding the company, more than 2,800 runners and walkers have signed up for the service. The cost is just $8 per month and covers the porta-potty rental and cleaning.
Some local residents think it’s a great idea, while others complain that it’s not fair for the potties to be locked for non-subscribers. Duke and Yen-Dung say they completely understand, so they’ve started posting more information about their program on the potties, and that seems to have helped.
Potty locations are chosen by subscribers and approved by the local jurisdictions. They’re not just potties, either – each location also offers a garbage can and a Gu vending machine. Subscribers have also even started organizing group runs.
Duke and Yen-Dung are hoping to expand their services to Tacoma and Portland in the next year, and a few local clubs have reached out to them to see how they can help jump start the service. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out and keep Run Oregon readers posted!
Happy April Fool’s Day!