News Release

Tracking public restrooms on Minnesota bike trails

Bike path
Photo by gbh007 from Getty Images.

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Minnesota collaborated to identify the location of public restrooms and portable toilets along every bicycle path and route throughout Minnesota. The project —  MN Bike and GO — is using crowdsourcing and mobile devices to identify the locations on an interactive web-based map.

“Minnesota is a great place to ride a bike, but people often need to use the restroom during a ride and there isn’t a good way to know where they are located or what they are like. They may also not know which ones have opened after being closed due to COVID-19. Currently, there are no maps or lists readily available,” said School of Nursing Professor Donna Bliss. “This project will solve those problems and help people and families enjoy their bike rides.”

The success of MN Bike and GO is based on crowdsourcing of information by the public. To encourage this, the website includes a short survey that allows bicyclists to report information about the restroom’s features, such as cleanliness, toilet paper supplies, hours the restroom is open and whether the toilets flush.

“The initiative has benefits for everyone, not only as a matter of convenience but to maintain health,” said Bliss. “It may also eliminate one of the barriers preventing people with bladder or bowel problems from getting on their bikes and enjoying the outdoors.”

The U of M team is currently sharing information about MN Bike and GO with bicycle organizations and bike shops throughout Minnesota to raise awareness about the project and encourage riders to participate. The submitted information will be used to populate the map and will allow users to search for restrooms and portable toilets along bike routes using their mobile devices during or before a ride.

MN Bike and GO was created in collaboration with Len Kne, director of U-Spatial, and numerous undergraduate and doctoral students.


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