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Without Public Restrooms, NYC Uber and Lyft Drivers Risk Health and Safety

This summary about the lack of public restrooms in NYC was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

When nature calls, where do women rideshare drivers in New York City go? 

Yan Li, a Chinese immigrant in her forties, has developed her own strategies while on the job: For number 1 and 2, she uses a bedpan and plastic bags, which she keeps in her car. When she’s done relieving herself, she wraps the bag tightly, and finds a bin to trash it. For menstruation, she started wearing an adult diaper — a solution that later proved to be ineffective. 

Like Yan Li, most rideshare drivers in New York — 86%— are immigrants. Many of them are from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. But there’s a small number of women in the industry — just 24% of rideshare drivers are women. Although male drivers experience a similar challenge of lacking access to restrooms, relieving themselves is easier, one female driver told our reporters. 

There aren’t enough public restrooms in NYC: And even so, many of the available ones are out of reach to workers, writes our reporters Yuning Li and Howard Liu in today’s story. There are only two 24/7 public restrooms in NYC. 

Our reporters narrate the similar frustrations of these drivers: a source indicated how she almost wet her pants one day when she went to pick up food at a restaurant, which requested $2 to use their restroom. In other locations like hotels and malls, drivers struggle to find parking, and if they double park, are at risk of getting a ticket as high as $115 — more than half of Yan Li’s earnings on an average day. 

The lack of access to bathrooms is a labor and safety issue: Workers have had to take on more night shifts, as that’s when they can find parking more easily, while others avoid drinking water during their shifts. In 2017, after a year of advocacy, rideshare drivers won portable restrooms at JFK airport, but unsanitary conditions made the solution ineffective. 

Earlier this year, New York City passed legislation to install workplace protections for delivery workers, and it included better access to bathrooms. But many drivers do not know about the legislation or the specifics of it, and therefore are unaware about their rights. This suggests additional outreach may be needed. 

Read the full report exclusively on Documented.


New York

The state of basements nearly a year after Ida — tenants are as unsafe as ever: With another hurricane season underway, calls for change have given way to bureaucratic delays and few improvements for basement-dwelling residents. — Gothamist

Long Island police investigating if mosque fire attack was hate crime: The district attorney’s office says the fireball was caused by someone using a container filled with an accelerant, and it appears to be a hate crime. — NBC

A bill, now on Gov. Hochul’s desk, aims to make conditions safer for construction workers: Carlos’s Law, first introduced in 2017, faced opposition from Republicans and real estate experts. It finally passed the legislature last month, and Gov. Hochul is reviewing it. — New York Times

These octogenarian brothers from Ecuador make hand-drawn signs and posters for a living: The brothers were raised in Colombia, speak limited English, and made posters for trendy ice cream shops of Manhattan and other commissions from around the world. — The New Yorker

Around the U.S. 

Some Highland Park shooting victims were from a thriving Latinx community: A thriving Latino population suffered deaths and injuries from the incident, leading the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to start fundraising. – Read more

Texas’ ‘Operation Lone Star’ probed for violating federal civil rights: The Department of Justice is seeking information to determine whether Texas’s Department of Public Safety is in compliance with the Civil Rights Act. — ABC News

Colorado immigration activists rallied as court heard appeal argument in support of DACA: DACA recipients contribute about $800 million to Colorado’s annual gross domestic product, according to an estimate from the Colorado Office of New Americans. — Colorado Newsline

Washington D.C.

Biden admin. lawyer pushes court to revive DACA: A lawyer for the Biden administration told the Court of Appeals panel that Texas failed to provide evidence that it had to spend more on social services because of DACA. — CNN 

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