'Locks of Love' Bridge Collapses Under Weight Of Locks, So Please Stop Doing This

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A fad has arisen in Paris over the past few years wherein couples proclaim their love for one another by attaching a padlock to the Pont des Arts footbridge and throwing the key into the river below. It’s sweet, but it’s also dangerous, as was evidenced Sunday when the Pont des Arts partially collapsed under the weight of all of those locks. Seems that's the cost of undying love.

It’s unclear which was the lock that broke the bridge’s back, but 2.4 meters of railing collapsed at some point on Sunday. Local police frantically evacuated and closed down the bridge when it became clear what was happening. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

People started putting locks on the bridge around 2008, and now, the entire 150 meter length of the bridge is covered in over 700,000 of them. While the tradition is charming and alluring to outsiders, it’s become a nuisance for local Parisians. For one, the spectacle can be a bit of an eyesore, with the mishmash of metal appearing more like a collection of trash than a symbol of eternal romance. There’s also an environmental impact to almost a million metal keys festering away in the Seine river below. Safety questions were raised even before the collapse, and activists recently launched a campaign to have the locks banned. Wrote petitioners to the mayor in February:

In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine, which has itself been polluted by thousands of discarded keys.

But the tradition shows no signs of letting up, and in fact, it seems to be spreading: Recently, officials had to remove forty locks from the Eiffel tower.