A new innovation in the northern German city of Hamburg has taken the world by storm: pee-proof walls.
That's right. Local groups recently began introducing "hydrophobic" paint on areas of the city's busy night-club district, aimed at deterring late-night revelers from urinating in public. The paint makes the urine bounce back on the unsuspecting urinator. The move has generated international attention, and led Australian lawmakers to publicly discuss whether to import the concept.
Originally developed by Nissan to keep cars clean from dirt, the water-repellent paint acts as a reflector. Public urinators in Hamburg have to be careful now, since only some of the painted walls have warning signs. A fun night may now end with wet pants, according to state broadcaster NDR.
It costs about $700 to cover six square meters with urine-repelling paint, which has raised questions over the idea's efficiency. According to a WorldViews calculation, one could buy more than 1,500 bottles of normal German beer for the same price.
The St. Pauli red-light district in Hamburg, where the ideas was first implemented, is known for its rampant parties and alcohol excesses. The alcohol consumption has certainly fueled spending in the popular district, but it has also led to party-goers urinating in public against the walls of houses and shops.
"On the streets here, it's like being in a sewer," Julia Staron, a spokesman for the local initiative behind the pee-proof walls, told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
Public urination is quite common in Germany, which is why police authorities rarely take action against such behavior (as you would know if you have ever been to Munich's Oktoberfest). Usually, authorities can punish public urinators with a fine of about $35, but local laws vary.
In January, a court in Dusseldorf officially ruled that it was legal to urinate while standing after a landlord had argued that the masculine behavior destroyed bathroom floors. The court, after a careful review of facts and cultural habits, found that "despite growing domestication of men in this matter, urinating while standing up is still common practice."
It is likely, that some Germans may consider the Hamburg initiative just another attempt to limit the freedom of peeing in Germany. So far, however, there have been no reports of lawsuits.
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