Love carries a lot of responsibility and weight, literally, as City of Paris officials have found out.
The city recently had to remove 45 tons of “love locks” from the Pont des Arts bridge as the weight was threatening the bridge’s structural safety.
Love locks have become a trendy way for couples to symbolize their love for each other by locking in padlocks onto a scenic bridge and throwing away the key, usually into the water below, which is also adding environmental issues into the mix. Although this could be seen as cute, the practice is seen as a “scourge” by some.
Paris anti-lock activist Lisa Anselmo says she estimates 1.5 million love locks exist in the City of Light. She, along with other activists in cities all over the world, are looking for solutions to the weighty problem, including everything from the arts to structural engineering.
Ideas received so far range from plastic locks sold at special lovers key lock stands, to legislation restricting the size of padlocks being used and controlled by police key patrols, to building heart shaped structures in city parks to which lovers can attach their love locks.
The love lock practice has become so popular that some couples even commission the design of their own personalized locks, and there are special love lock group tour vacations where couples visit romantic cities, touring sites used as scenes in romantic movies or described in romantic novels.
Although the history of love padlocks goes back 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of World War I, its popularity is blamed on the best selling Italian novel I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, who also made a film adaptation of the book. In the novel lovers lock in their love in padlocks affixed to Rome’s Ponte Milvio Bridge.