Love actually or a bridge too far? Love locks around the world - Halong Junk Cruises

Love actually or a bridge too far? Love locks around the world

Love locks on the Ponte dell Accademia, Venice.
Love locks on the Ponte dell Accademia, Venice. Photograph: Kobie Johnson/flickr

Venice

Where are they locked?
The main spots for love locks in Venice are the Rialto bridge, the Ponte degli Scalzi and the Ponte dell’Accademia, where they have been a in evidence from around 2006. Over 20,000 have been counted on the latter of the bridges.

What are people saying about them?
Just as in Paris, there is a growing movement against the locks. This August saw the launch of the Unlock Your Love campaign, founded by writer Alberto Toso Fei, which has led to thousands of information cards being distributed around tourist-heavy areas, and tying ribbons to the offending locks.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud, Toso Fei said: “It is important to make people understand that it is not a sweet gesture, the expression of a unique sentiment, but an action that is totally banal.”

It’s an ongoing frustration for locals; in 2011, La Repubblica ran a furious editorial denouncing the locks, calling for €3,000 fines and up to a year in jail for offenders who were caught in the act.

Official line
Venice authorities have already tried to put a stop to love locks. Over the years there have been regular clean-up campaigns, in which all the locks have been removed, although they keep coming back. According to local reports, the city is planning to introduce a sanction for anyone caught selling, or attaching the locks. “[That] is a great idea that has the full support of the city administration,” the current special commissioner of the City of Venice, Vittorio Zappalorto, told the Venice Times.

Paris

Love locks on the Pont Des Arts, Paris.
Love locks on the Pont Des Arts, Paris.
Photograph: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Where are they locked?
This being the city of love … everywhere, but the focal points are the Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché – though most bridges across the Seine are now afflicted. It is estimated more than 700,000 love locks are clamped to bridges and fences across the French capital.

What are people saying about them?
Tourists seem to be the most approving of the idea but those living in the city are growing less patient. This spring, two expat Americans set up a No Love Locks campaign, which petitioned the city council to take action. One of their points is that they could affect the structural integrity of the bridges. As if to prove their point, in June one of the parapets on the Pont Des Arts buckled under the weight of them.

Official line
Aware of the popularity of the activity among tourists, the city council has avoided taking a hardline approach to tackling the problem. Earlier in the summer, Guardian Travel spoke to the city’s culture secretary Bruno Julliard, who said he hoped to find “artistic, unifying and ecological alternatives” to the love locks. “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. In August a #lovewithoutlocks campaign was started on social media, calling on visiting couples to take selfies instead.

New York

Love locks under Brooklyn Bridge
Love locks hang on a fence under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Photograph: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri /Corbis

Where are they locked?
Since 2010 love locks have been a prominent fixture on the Brooklyn bridge.

What are people saying about them?
While there isn’t a grass roots campaign to stop them, they have attracted the attention of one particular group of people: the Open Organisation Of Lockpickers (Toool). Last October it ran a “love picking” event, in which a group met in Brooklyn to address the problem, and practise their craft. The organisation argues that by carefully removing the locks they can preserve and then potentially relocate them – to form part of a public art sculpture.

Official line
City officials are opposed to the locks. Department of transportation spokeswoman Nicole Garcia has complained that the locks damage the bridge, and that efforts to remove them creates disruption – and safety hazards – for motorists.

Cologne

Love locks visible along the entire inside guard rail on the Hohenzollern bridge in Cologne.
Love locks visible along the entire inside guard rail on the Hohenzollern bridge in Cologne. Photograph: Rainer Stropek/flickr

Where are they locked?
Hohenzollern bridge, which crosses the Rhine, is estimated to have around 40,000 locks attached to it, adding up to approximately two tonnes in weight.

What are people saying about them?
The love locks seem to have won over the locals. A previous attempt by Deutsche Bahn – the railway company that manages the bridge – to remove the locks stalled after a public outcry. In 2009, the folklore department at the Rhineland regional council even began a research project into the trend. Dagmar Haenel, head of the department, told the broadcaster Deutsche Welle: “The beginning of a new tradition is very interesting for us.” Meanwhile, the broadcaster also spoke to one local woman who visits the bridge several times a week to clean the lock she attached with her boyfriend.

Official line
Although the growing weight of the locks is a concern, the Hohenzollern bridge is listed on the Cologne tourist board’s website as a pilgrimage destination for lovers. So, for now at least, it seems they are in favour.

Dublin

Love locks on the Ha'penny bridge, Dublin
Love locks on the Ha’penny bridge, Dublin. Photograph: William Murphy/flickr

Where are they locked?
Mostly on the historic Ha’penny bridge. However, they have been spreading more recently to the Millennium bridge, the Rosie Hackett bridge (which opened in May 2014), and the Boardwalk balustrade.

What are people saying about them?
Again, it seems that while tourists continue to lock on to the trend, locals are growing tired of it. Irish Times columnist Shane Hegarty described it as an “infestation spreading along the bridge … until the pedestrian has to flinch to avoid them”. He argued that the city should create alternative spots for lovers to attach their locks “because the Ha’penny bridge really needs to be shown some love”.

Official line
Dublin city council is currently looking at creative approaches to the problem (using the hashtag #lovelocksbeta). One of those includes teaming up with a local lock-picking group at TOG Dublin, which is now working on ways to “liberate” the bridge from the locks. TOG is considering having day-long organised “clean ups” when all the locks are picked in one fell swoop. Among the other options being considered is creating alternative structures for the locks, or as a last resort, simply punishing people for doing it. The project launched in August and the council is hoping to hear ideas and suggestions from the public as it continues.

Moscow

Love locks attached to metal trees on Moscow's Luzhkov Bridge.
Love locks attached to metal trees on Moscow’s Luzhkov Bridge. Photograph: Jason Eppink/flickr

Where are they locked?
Luzhkov bridge and along the banks of the Moscow river.

What are people saying about them?
The Moscow authorities have set a fine example in managing the love-lock trend, placing metal “trees” along the bridge in 2007 so that couples can attach locks to those, instead of the railings. As a consequence, the bridge continues to grow as a popular site for newlyweds, who visit the site to place a lock and have their photograph taken. The popularity of it is partly due to a Russian tradition that newly married couples should kiss on a bridge on their wedding day.

Official line
Stick to the trees and it’s all good. There are potentially hundreds of thousands of locks on the trees now, and the guard rails remain lock-free.

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