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Paris Battles Love for Bridge Control

Monday, September 29, 2014

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Fed up with the romantic gesture that is weighing heavy on its bridges, Paris is making a new push to block its lovebirds from "Love Locking" the city’s historic spans.

"Love Locking"—in which couples etch their names on a padlock, secure it to the bridge, then toss the key in the water—has become increasingly popular around the world. And Paris's historic Pont des Arts footbridge has become a prime location for it.

No Love Locks

Two new glass panels on the Pont des Arts are surrounded by graffiti-covered plywood and fencing overloaded with padlocks.

The practice is not only damaging bridges by piling on weight and corrosion; it also adds considerable litter to the waters below.

In Paris, police had to evacuate the Pont des Arts in June when a section of railing collapsed under the weight of the locks. Now, the city is experimenting with glass panels to replace the traditional fencing that people have covered with padlocks.

If the first panels work well, the remainder of the bridge's fencing will be replaced over time, officials say..

Padlock Prevention

An anti-padlock campaign, "No Love Locks," applauded the city's efforts.

"As part of their efforts to remove padlocks from all bridges and monuments in the city, the Mairie must also address the issue of preventing new locks from being attached. These glass panels are the first serious such effort at prevention," No Love Locks posted on its ebsite.

The campaign was started in February by Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff, two Americans living in Paris.

No Love Locks reports that the glass is not plastic or Plexiglass, but instead a special type of glass that is designed to be shatter- and graffiti-resistant, as well as anti-glare.


"Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love, set them free by declaring your love with  #lovewithoutlocks," pleads a campaign from the Mayor of Paris' office.

Pont des Arts
Twitter / @eric_sennse

Police had to evacuate the historic bridge in June after part of the railing collapsed under the weight of the locks.

In May, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo invited a public discussion on the love locks "phenomenon," with a focus on seeking alternatives.

In 2010, the city government warned that the ritual was posing problems, noting that two sections of railing had already been replaced.

"The costs to the City to replace all 110+ panels on this bridge alone will no doubt be considerable, but when compared to the damage caused to the bridge from the locks over the past 6 years, and the constant upkeep costs as well as the security risks posed by the heavy locks, this is an investment we hope the City will deem worthy," No Love Locks said.

Unfazed Romance

So far, however, the new panels have not stopped determined lovebirds, the Toronto Sun reported.

Tourists are continuing to hook their locks on the remaining, overloaded fencing. Even the plywood covering sections where glass will soon be placed has been covered in "romantic graffiti," according to the newspaper.


The mayor's office has started a campaign to encourage selfies over padlocks.

As the Pont des Arts bridge isn't the only structure in Paris affected by the locks, No Love Locks says it will push for a ban and also for multi-lingual signs to be posted at all bridges and monuments.

Brooklyn Battle

Meanwhile, Stateside, the New York City Department of Transportation is battling a similar problem on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Please, New Yorkers and tourists, don't put locks on the bridge, don't write graffiti on the bridge," Polly Trottenberg, the city's DOT Commissioner, told WABC-TV. "We know it's a romantic gesture, but it's not good for our bridges."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Europe; Graffiti; Health & Safety; Maintenance programs; North America; Rail; Rehabilitation/Repair; Trends

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