It’s a global trend that has captured the imagination – and hearts – of romantics around the world, but it seems the tide may be turning against love locks.
Paris council has pledged to take action against the locks, which are attached in their thousands to the guard rails of bridges across the capital by couples as a symbol of their love.
The city’s culture secretary Bruno Julliard has been charged by the newly-appointed mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to come up with a solution to the phenomenon that will appease both the romantics and those concerned about the damage the locks are causing to the historic bridges.
Speaking to the Guardian, Julliard said he hopes to be able to implement a solution as soon as possible, potentially before the end of the year. “Anne Hidalgo gave me the mission to find artistic, unifying and ecological alternatives to the love locks,” he said. “But the issue is not a simple one, as both Parisians and tourists are very attached to this symbolic act. Paris is the capital of love and is meant to stay as such.”
Julliard was keen to add that there will be no punitive measures taken against people putting up love locks, and that the city is planning an open call for creative solutions.
“The idea is to call for projects directed by Parisian artists, as well artists from around the world, asking them to suggest a place or a piece of art that would welcome all these love locks,” he said. “We are not trying to punish anyone. There will not be any legal act, fines, or even any systematic removal of padlocks. We will just be replacing the pans of guard rails that have too many love locks, as we are already doing.”
The No Love Locks campaign, which has been lobbying the city council to take action since February, have launched a petition with more than 7,000 signatures calling for action. “We are pleased and encouraged that Hidalgo has made this move – it’s the first time it has been on the official agenda of the city government,” said Lisa Anselmo, who lives in Paris and cofounded the campaign with fellow American expat Lisa Taylor Huff.
“But while we applaud Julliard’s idea to announce an open call for alternative solutions to the problem, we recommend this be done much sooner than his proposed timeline of the year’s end. We will continue to push for the complete removal of locks from the historic sites of Paris, and call for swift action, especially as we are entering the height of the tourist season.”
The love locks craze, which took off in the early noughties, is a concern for city officials in almost every major city in the world. In Moscow, metal trees have been placed along the banks of the river and across bridges as an alternative for people to attach their locks, while similar trees have appeared in Elisabeth Square in Budapest.
Last week, the transport department in New York, which monitors the city’s bridges, called for a crackdown on the ritual, claiming maintenance crews had removed 5,600 locks from the Brooklyn Bridge since July.