PARIS (NBC/RTV/KXAN) — Two Americans — who live in Paris — have launched a campaign to ban the popular “love locks” padlocks on bridges spanning the Seine in Paris.
Lisa Anselmo, of New York, and Lisa Taylor Huff, originally from New Jersey, are two longtime friends on a mission to unlock a solution to cluttering Paris bridges with countless padlocks. Both Lisas have been friends for 30 years, and while Anselmo lives part-time in Paris, Taylor Huff lives there with her French husband and actually has her dual-citizenship.
Their website “No Love Locks” tries to deter couples from cluttering the bridges with padlocks, which are designed to lock away the love of the couple in a public show of eternal affection. Couples throw the keys overboard once they’ve “locked their love” onto the bridge.
An estimated 700,000 padlocks are scattered around Paris.
Both women say there’s a concern about the damage the locks are causing and the way they junk up the bridges.
“We appreciate that it’s meaningful to some people, but it’s at a point now where we have to put the heritage of the historic bridges and the safety and qualify of life for Parisians first,” Anselmo told KXAN. “We don’t want people to think we’re just love-haters. It’s not about that. We get that it’s meaningful to people. We need to show Paris our love, too, and to think about the people that live there.”
Anselmo’s blog post about the issue in January garnered thousands of views, but the peak of the issue for her came when she saw the Pont de l’Archevêché bridge for the first time in a while — the bridge now packed with padlocks that hadn’t been there before.
“I’d never seen anything like it, and it wasn’t just the amount of locks,” said Anselmo. “It’s one thing to put a lock, but the graffiti, I don’t understand that.”
Taylor Huff said the padlocks could cause serious damage to some of the fragile bridges.
“The bridges are actually being physically damaged by the weight of the locks, by the rust that goes — passes from the locks onto the mesh and the grillage — by the environmental damage to the river from the keys that are thrown in and rusting,” said Taylor Huff. “The Seine, as you know, has been polluted, and they’ve been working to clean it up. There’s just the sheer ugliness of it and that it really, I think, takes something away from the beauty of the center of the city and the quality of life for Parisians.”
Taylor Huff says she’s crunched the numbers, too.
“So we did some math, and that would mean that the Pont des Arts right now is covered with 93 metric tons of metal, and that is about the equivalent of three very large trucks being parked on the bridge at all times,” said Taylor Huff. “I have a very hard time believing that this bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge — not made of stone — that it was built to withstand that kind of constant pressure and weight.”
But some couples just won’t buy into the idea.
“No, I think it’s accepted vandalism,” said a tourist. “There are certain things that are illegal, or there are things that you shouldn’t do, but they’re accepted. I think this is just one of them.”
“They don’t live in Paris, so what’s ‘acceptable?'” said Anselmo. “You need to ask Parisians, ‘What’s acceptable vandalism?'”
“We thought it was a cute idea, too … six years ago,” said Anselmo, speaking about the padlocks of love. “And now it’s at a point that it’s destructive to the heritage and bridges: the graffiti, the damage, the danger.”
Anselmo says ultimately, they’re open to other solutions that don’t damage the bridges.
Meanwhile, couples from all over the world have been spreading the padlock craze around many of Europe’s most beautiful locations.