This past week on BBC Travel there has been a growing concern about the international ‘Love Lock‘ phenomenon that might seem quite sweet and harmless in the eyes of some, but in the eyes of others has led to some in Paris to call for a outright ban on the trend.

The History

If you’re not familiar with the practice already, ‘Love Locks‘ are a memento of a pledge, the most common of which being that the couple who leave their lock there are bound to stay together forever and are committed to love each other forever. Others comment that the lock is akin to throwing money into the Trevi Fountain in Rome which gives the thrower of which good fortune and a ‘guarantee‘ that one day they’ll return to the Eternal City.

Why the use of locks has gained momentum over the course of the last decade, no one really knows why for sure, but there are some theories that can be found around the internet, some attributed to popular works of fiction, others to several cult films, and one or two can be linked to decades old love stories, such as the ‘the Bridge of Love‘ tale from Serbia.

A love lock covered bridge near the Notre Dame Cathedral - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

A love lock covered bridge near the Notre Dame Cathedral

What’s The Big Deal

The reason why the otherwise harmless love locks memento has made the news in recent weeks is the ongoing campaign by the No Love Locks collective to draw attention to the longer lasting effects and potential damage to the bridges – such as the mentioned Pont des Arts in Paris – due to the sheer quantity and weight of the collected number of love locks left by travelling lovers from across the globe.

Studies suggest that not only is it costing the Parisian local authorities financially to remove the locks periodically where the money could be better spent elsewhere on local services, but it’s also costing the structural integrity of the bridge itself due to the design not originally taking in to effect the weight not only of the locks, but the many people that now navigate the bridge to leave their own love lock, or take a picture of the end-to-end rows of chunky brass locks.

Locks upon locks upon locks in Paris - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

Locks upon locks upon locks in Paris

Locks In Every Location

The love lock trend isn’t just restricted to the bridges of Paris, in fact, love lock mementos can be found the world over at hundreds of the busiest tourist attractions, from New York City, to London and Seoul; and the list of love lock locations keeps growing by the day.

Panorama of love locks in Paris - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

panorama of love locks in Paris

Where We’ve Seen Them

Over the course of the past two years we’ve seen love locks in many of the countries we’ve travelled to and we’ve always asked ourselves ‘why?‘ but have never found much of a reason beyond the rumoured stories above.

We’ve seen them in on top terrace garden of the Lotte Department Store in Busan, South Korean with it’s unusual world renowned water show. We’ve seen love locks on many of the canal bridges in Venice, and also recently in Frankfurt. We’ve also seen love locks along the seaside walking routes of Cinque Terre.

Love locks on the terrace garden of the Lotte Department Store - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

love locks on the terrace garden of the Lotte Department Store, Busan

locks on a bridge in Venice - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

locks on a bridge in Venice

Locks hanging from a bridge in Frankfurt - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

locks hanging from a bridge in Frankfurt

Locks along the Cinque Terre path - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

locks along the Cinque Terre path, Italy

How Do We Feel?

We’ve in the past few months been to Paris and have seen the love locks on the Pont des Arts for ourselves and seeing the many locks gave us reason to consider the matter for ourselves.

Personally I’m against the use of love locks (and neither is Franca), though I can understand the larger sentimental reasoning behind these particular mementos, I just feel that they can on occasion really ruin the aesthetics of the location, sometimes giving an almost messy appearance to some of the worlds most beautiful places. Again, I’m not against people being in lovejust ask Franca – but what I am against is just how over the top it’s become and again, I do find it rather ugly.

Surely we don’t need to leave something permanent such as a lock somewhere for us to be in love? Would their sudden removal cause hundreds of thousands of relationships the world over to fracture and break over night? Of course not. So why not leave with another kind of memento such as a photograph of the two of you somewhere special or just the lifelong lasting memory of the special places you went to and the things you did?

Love locks with Notre Dame in the background - Is It Time To Ban The Love Lock?

What About An Alternative?

So for the sake of those couples who wish to leave a love lock memento but aren’t quite satisfied with the alternative of ‘just a photography‘, what else would make for a good alternative?

Personally I’m a fan of the solution in this picture taken on a bridge in Moscow following the local authorities efforts to clean up their bridges due to the many love locks cover them.

Love locks in Moscow
photography by A.Savin

I think it’s a much nicer visual solution that not only gives an immediate solution, but the thought of the ‘tree‘ growing larger and larger over the years as more people leave their love locks on them makes me smile. Just imagine it in five years time as it grows taller and wider with the love locks from people the whole world over, growing before our eyes. At least this way the love locks are manageable and the designers of the bridge can take the tree into account in the name of safety.

One other alternative we read about was people to swap their love locks for something a little less permanent and heavy such as ribbons with their names on. A suitable alternative we think you’ll agree, but perhaps not the safest against the elements? Saying that, neither are any of those currently rusty locks on the bridges of Paris.

Can you think of a nice alternative?

EDIT: Thanks to Donna Meyer of NomadWoman for submitting the following picture from her recent trip to Amsterdam.

Love Locks on Staalmeesters Bridge in Amsterdam