Proposal:Toilet Tagging Improvements

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Toilet Tagging Improvements
Proposal status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: micahcochran
Tagging: amenity=toilets
Applies to: node area
Definition: add occupancy information for all toilets and gender designated access tags for toilets within places

Rendered as: varies
Draft started: 2017-03-24
RFC start: 2017-03-30


Two minor improvements for toilet tagging. Occupancy for all toilets and gender designation for toilets within a place.

Note: I use restroom and toilet room interchangeably. This also refers to WC/washroom.

New tag for Occupancy

Add tag for toilets intended for a single-occupancy or multiple-occupancy. This is information for how the space is designed for its occupants.

New tag for gender designation of toilets in shops/buildings/places

By gender designation it means what is the designated gender is for a particular restroom, so male/female/unisex. This is adding that to toilets that are already being tagged.

In some countries, having male and female toilets (or a single-stall unisex toilet) is the expectation due to laws or prevailing customs. In India, it seems providing public toilets for females is not the custom. So explicit tagging is very much a need for perhaps half the population there. Thus, some females avoid public toilets unless they are tagged female=yes.

Unisex restrooms can also provide a space for families and caregivers, especially when those people are of different genders.

Unisex restrooms are typically single-occupancy toilets, but in some places such as Japan and the USA there are multi-occupant multi-occupancy gender neutral restrooms. If some people want know about those, tagging can help them avoid/find those.

My Motivation

My motivation is have more information about toilets. This information is intended to benefit transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people in order to help them find toilets/restrooms/washrooms/WC that might possibly be safer. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey is a survey of the United States transgender population of experiences over a one year period (refer to pages 14-15). The findings were:

  • Transgender people have reported being verbally harassed (12%), physically attacked (1%), or sexually assaulted(1%) in a public restroom.
  • More than half (59%) of transgender people avoided public restrooms due to being afraid of confrontations.
  • About one-third (32%) of respondents limited what they ate or drank, so they would not have to use a public restroom.
  • Some (8%) reported urinary tract infections that avoiding public restrooms could have contributed to those problems.

I presume that there may be similar issues experienced by transgender populations in other countries for public toilet access.

For governments that have laws that being transgender or gender non-conforming a criminal act, this proposal will do nothing to help these populations.

Possibly other populations that experience discrimination in access to toilets might benefit from more detailed public toilet information.

There are two types of restrooms that I am trying to create tagging scheme to capture:

  1. Unisex restrooms. Unisex restrooms provide a restroom for everyone including these groups.
  2. Single-occupancy restrooms. These are very private and are hopefully less likely to lead to harassment.


In the US, laws are being created to forcing transgender people to use the restroom of their biological sex (usually determined by birth certificate), not their gender. This is currently a hot political issue.

In my opinion, the proposed tags adds information to the map and is useful beyond my own purposes and intent. I don't think this proposal on its own is political. (No more political that an more accurate inventory of restrooms should be.)

I am putting this in for completeness, not for sympathy and not for getting agreement.



Section added 2017-04-11 in response to Javwb's comments.

toilets:occupancy=*. Is the restroom designed for one occupants or multiple occupants? This can be a semicolon (;) separated value. The semicolon separated may be used to note entirely separate toilet rooms. If you do have semicolon separated values alphabetical order is preferred, so "multi;single" is preferable.

  • toilets:occupancy=single - a single-occupancy restroom is generally intended for one occupant and with a seated toilet and may also have a urinal. This restroom should really be able to be locked by the occupant.
  • toilets:occupancy=multi - a multi-occupancy restroom intended for multiple occupants.

For example, Target department store with male and female multi-occupancy toilets and a single-occupancy unisex toilets should be tagged in this manner:

Gender designation of toilets within places

Places includes shops, buildings, and other such establishments tagged toilets=yes.

These tag provides gender designation of toilets within a place.

These tags are intended to work in the same manner as the tags male=*, female=*, and unisex=*.

The toilets:for: namespace leaves open the possibility for a later proposal to add restrooms intended for specific populations not based on gender.

Add gender designations suffix to all toilet tags

Some toilets have different facilities for different designated restrooms. This will work in a similar manner to Key:parking:lane parking:lane deals with sides of the street.

The format of this is toilets-tag:group - group is the gender or group designated for a restroom

Example #1 - urinals (since, female urinals are rare):

ALSO ACCEPTABLE if there are only a male and female restrooms:

Example #2 - The unisex restroom is wheelchair accessible, but the male and female restrooms are not wheelchair accessible.:

This item will make programming (and cartography?) for toilets a little more complicated. On the other hand, this allows for more detailed information to be kept.

Applies to

These are newly proposed tags:

Tagging Examples

This table is proposed to be added to the amenity=toilets page. Even if the proposal doesn't pass, it could (should?) be modified to be added to the existing page.

Toilet Tagging examples
Note: these examples are mostly based on what information can be figured out from the picture, not what the actual facility has. These are intended to be informative, not definative.


Public toilets

Public toilets Photo by: 3268zauber



A toilet hidden in an advertising column

A toilet hidden in an advertising column



Upscaled public toilets on the Hayes, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Upscaled public toilets on the Hayes, Cardiff, United Kingdom. The urinals contain partitions between units and in the mirror you can see doors, which are perhaps for seated toilets appear to have doors. Photo by: Rhyswynne



Typical handicap wheelchair accessible toilet.

Typical handicap wheelchair accessible toilet. Photo by: Jeanlouiszimmermann

name=Vista House

Note: There is not a privacy wall between the urinals, so that part of toilets:stall=* is "open", while the seated toilets are "multi". It is semi-colon (;) separated. (Note: the picture does not show a female restroom, so may be tagged separately or simply may not exist.)

Toilet Room in a historic Vista House, Oregon, USA

Toilet Room in a historic Vista House, Oregon, USA. Photo by: Acroterion



A picture outside of a public toilet in a recreational area with public art. There are separate units for males and females, which are handicap accessible. There are drinking fountains provided on the outside.

Photo by: Kenneth Freeman (Kencf0618)



The female restroom is ignored for tagging, since that is not the subject of the photo. toilets:stall=open refers to the lack of privacy in the unit, not really that the unit has no door. toilets:stall=open is for the squat toilet.

A picture of a toilet room in Japan toilet that has no door.

Photo by: Kate Nevens.

Other Tagging Ideas (Alternatives)

Capacity and Number (Alternative)

I discussed repurposing capacity=* in the tagging discussion in order for it to mean the number of people intended for toilets seated/urinals to be served at any given time. This would include adding the new tags for toilets:capacity:male/female/unisex for number of toilets in a place. There are a number of drawbacks. When there is more than one gender designated toilets the meaing of toilet:capacity is ambigous. However, the gender designation suffix would remove most of the ambiguity. Once you get to a large number of toilets, many mappers will omit counting. This tagging can oftentimes hide single stall toilets. For example, if there are 3 single-stall toilets then capacity=3. Another example of that is a single-stall toilet (capacity=1) and multi-stall toilets (capacity=3), and when those are summed you come up with capacity=4. Still, this might be a useful tag if guided correctly.

Post from 2013 about using the capacity tag in that manner.

Also, toilets:number=* the tag currently has about 10k entries, this tag seems to mainly be used in postions of Africa. I'm not to sure how that is being used. About 4k, toilets:number=0, which I assume toilets=no is the preferable way to tag that there is not a public toilet when you expect there to be one. If that is even what that tagging means.

Position Capacity (Alternative)

A step beyond the idea of capacity/county is that some want to be able to count the number of urinals, seated, squated. Perhaps a farther brakedown of toilets:capacity:urinal:male=* and toilets:capacity:seated:male=*, which if present toilets:capacity:male=* should be the sum of those "position" tags. This is outside my proposal interest.

Family Restroom (Alternative)

In my opinion, Family Restrooms are a different kind of unisex restroom designed for multiple people (an opposite sex parent and young child child or a patient-care giver) to be able to enter the same restroom and have facilities that better serve. Perhaps this should be tagged with toilets:for:family=yes and toilets:occupancy:family=family. Or, it could be toilets:for:unisex=yes and toilets:occupancy:unisex=family. This would be a perhaps new idea of "family-occupany" for a restroom intend to accomodate a single family group. I don't really have enough feedback (or enough understanding of how toilets:occupancy=* should work) to be proposing that.

Other Reading

Features/Pages affected


External Discussions


Most restrooms should have a designated gender. Portable toilets are usually unisex. There are probably exceptions somewhere in the world (and the backwoods.)

Total number of Toilets

Sum: 165 378 as of 2017-03-29


Sum: 16 106 as of 2017-03-29

amenity=toilets has this number of combination tag (as of 2017-03-29)

Less than 15% of amenity=toilets are given a gender designation. It is probably fewer due to some being tagged some combination of tags for male=yes, female=yes, and unisex=yes.

New tags could possibly add to the use of the toilets=yes tag.

Existence of proposed tags (as of 2017-03-29):

Rendering Notes (no proposed changes)

Note: Entire Rendering Notes section can be skipped, no proposed changes.

There are no proposed changes to default openstreetmap-carto rendering and these notes are NOT applicable to a general base map. They only apply to symbology for map narrowly focused on restrooms/water closets/toilet rooms. There has been no effort to make this work within Mapnik or any other software for that matter.

Unisex Restrooms Symbol

Female, child, and male stick figures holding hands. Picture
A Family Restroom
Picture of a sign with the following stick figures: female, male, half-female/male, and baby. Captioned as as "All Gender Restroom". Below that states "Anyone can use this restroom, regardless of gender identity or expression"
A different Family Restroom sign. Photo by: Checkingfax

The stick figure male and female are nearly universal symbols for restroom. openstreetmap-carto currently does a similar rendering Woman-Man Symbol Icon, but swaps the position of the figures with the female figure on the left and the male on the right. A restroom designated for males uses the male stick figure. A restroom designated for females is signed with the female stick figure.

Typically, unisex restrooms are also signed with the same male beside female stick figure. Using those same concept causes some small problems. Are you trying to communicate that there are separate male and female restrooms or are you saying there is a unisex restroom? Most maps are somewhat ambiguous.

In the US, there has been a movement to try to figure out how to sign unisex designated restrooms in a way that is different from the male/female stick figure. Is there a way to include people who transgender or another gender entirely outside male/female?

Unisex restrooms are also go by the terms "Gender Neutral", "All Gender", "Gender Inclusive", "Family Restroom", or "Co-Ed Washroom". Sometimes it is simply labeled "Toilet" or "Restroom". Less politically correct design designate the gender as "Whatever".

Note that: Some unisex restrooms were formally gender designated. So, some may include urinals. Having urinals may be a part of the sign giving users the option of which restroom to go in.

Here are a few different ways to differently render restroom symbology:

  1. Half male/female stick figure. An emerging icon design is a stick figure half male/half female icon for unisex. The symbol on its own could also mean transgender, androgyny, or gender non-conforming. On restroom signage this figure may be alone, or it may also be beside the male/female stick figures. In the context of restrooms, you are probably not designating restrooms only for transgender persons. It might be difficult to show this distinction in a low resolution icon. This icon is a nod to the classic icon.
  2. Family Restroom. This icon uses the conventional female and male stick figure, and places a child stick figure nearby. The stick figures may or may not be holding hands. The child may be replaced with a baby, but that could imply provided diaper/nappy changing tables. This usually refers to a single-stall unisex restroom. It is also for people may have a care giver or family member who would assist them. This would also imply that the restroom might be handicap accessible.
  3. Toilet/Urinal icons. Some unisex restrooms signs just use toilet icon depiction. If there are urinals in some units, they might us a toilet icon, labeling "Toilet with urinals" or "Restroom without urinals". This may also include a urinal icon. This approach that defies conventional male/female stick figure icons, but it does get to the heart of it being a restroom without a gender designation.
  4. Circle transgender icon.
    This is a picture of sign with a circle transgender symbol, captioned "Restroom" and braile for "Restroom", and "This restroom may be used by any person regardless of the gender identity or expression"
    Circle transgender symbol on restroom sign. Photo by: sarahmirk
    This is a circle symbol is one that represents transgender. The downside to this icon is it is entirely different from the universally recognized design. It uses figures that aren't normally used to sign restrooms. The Unicode symbol is named "Male with stroke and male and female sign" (U+26A7): ⚧. This symbol is derived from Mars symbol ♂ for male and Venus symbol ♀ for female. This is my least favorite design.

Selection of Restroom Symbols
Name Unicode Value Image
RESTROOM U+1F6BB Toilets unisex.svg
MENS SYMBOL (men's restroom) U+1F6B9 Aiga toiletsq men.svg
WOMENS SYMBOL (women's restroom) U+1F6BA Toilet women.svg
Gender Neutral n/a Gender neutral.svg
FAMILY U+1F46A Icon people.svg
TOILET U+1F78D Noun 3121.svg
WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL U+267F Wheelchair symbol.svg
Male with stroke and male and female sign U+26A7 A TransGender-Symbol black-and-white.svg
Icons by: Don clark atlanta, Xavax/AnonMoos.

See also wikipedia:Public_toilet#Toilet_symbol_in_unicode

Recommendation: The half male/half female (Gender Neutral) icon seems to be the best available icon for unisex restroom. If you want to show single-stall unisex restrooms, perhaps use the Family Restroom Icon. Perhaps the toilet icon is used when there is no gender specified.

One idea is to use Unicode font with these symbols and generate a text label for the points. One could create their own font from [DejaVu Sans] and fill in any missing characters. Another, perhaps easier, idea would be to just use the SVG/PNG symbols.

Stalls Rendering Symbol

This could possibly be adapted to toilet:occupacy=* tag.

Handicap Accessibility

On signage a wheelchair icon is may added to a restroom that is designed to be handicap accessible.

It is usually added to the right of the gender designation, but the symbol is usually somewhere nearby.


Please comment on the discussion page.