For some years it has been a tradition among tourists to express their love by locking a padlock to bridges like Pont des Arts in Paris. Typically lovers write their names on the lock and then throw the key in the river Seine. But this practice has become a big problem for the city of Paris. This summer, a cause rail on Pont des Arts even collapsed under the weight of the padlocks and the bridge had to be closed for a few hours.
A lot of the rails on the bridge also appear to have been vandalized. Railings have been cut and the bridge has been protected by ugly wooden boards. The eyesore has been documented on this site with both images and video.
To put a stop to these acts of love, the city of Paris has started a campaign in order to get couples to go digital. On the ground at Pont des Arts there are signs urging visitors to show their love without locks using the hashtag #lovewithoutlocks on different social networks.
There is a campaign site on which images that use the official hashtag are displayed. There are currently more than 500 images on the site. And although that may not be much, I suspect that many couples who choose the digital route just simply share images with friends without the hashtag.
It’s a logical solution to a real problem. Encouraging people to show their love online instead would unburden the bridges of the growing weight of padlocks.
Free wifi would encourage tourists to go digital
But I think there is one thing the authorities are missing to make this move really succesful and that thing is free wifi! Tourists are always in constant search of a free online connection and if the city would install a zone of free wifi on Ponts des Arts (and of course communicate this clearly) then I am sure more people would seize the opportunity and share their images online instead of with a real padlock.