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Parisians push to ban ‘love locks’ on city bridges

Two tourists kiss in front of the Eiffel tower. LIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images

Paris plays host to romantics each year looking for ways to declare their love. But some residents are upset with what they call the “love locking” epidemic and have taken their message online.

“Love locking” is the practice of fastening a padlock to a bridge as a romantic gesture. People put initials or leave messages on the lock to personalize it.  The key is then thrown off the bridge into the water below.

Love locks on the Pont des Arts Paris 2013. Candace Lyons

But a group of Parisians who live in the city has been circulating an online petition to ban this practice.

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The “No Love Lock” movement was started by Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff who fear the city of love has been turned into the city of locks—defacing bridges that have been around for nearly a century.

Their online petition addressed to Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, garnered over 6000 signatures as of March.

According to the petition, “In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine, which has itself been polluted by thousands of discarded keys.”

The love lock trend isn’t indigenous to Paris. A number of cities across the globe have love lock traditions including Canadian cities like Ottawa and Vancouver (albeit on a much smaller scale).

In 2010, a number of locks were removed from Toronto’s Humber River Bridge.  The city ordered the removal, citing aesthetic reasons, and also fears the practice could compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.

Some tourists to Paris, meanwhile, are hopeful the locks will remain. Candace Lyons, who travelled to Paris from Toronto in October 2013,  said, “People come from all over the world and put this on the list of things to visit. If it’s an eyesore the tourists don’t think so.”

 

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