What's Love Got to Do with Bridge Safety?
What seems like a simple romantic gesture is actually a major maintenance issue for bridges.
On a typical day more than 7,000 pedestrians cross the Brooklyn Bridge to take in spectacular views of the New York City skyline and East River. But increasingly, some are coming for an entirely different reason: to leave something behind. For the past couple of years, people have taken to scribbling their names on small locks, fastening them to the bridge and then tossing the key into the river, all in the name of love. These “love locks” are intended to symbolize the enduring attachment of the attachers. Instead, it’s causing NYC officials some heartache. So far this year, the city has removed more than 10,000 locks, which has eaten into the bridge’s maintenance budget. The Brooklyn Bridge, however, isn’t the only place targeted by love lockers. The practice is thought to have started in Paris about six years ago and has since spread to spans around the world. In June, a section of railing on the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks. Now Parisian and New York City authorities alike are asking lovers to limit themselves to taking selfies and tweeting using #lovewithoutlocks. “We know it’s a romantic gesture,” NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told a local TV station, “but it’s not good for our bridges.” Good or not, it seems the battle is just beginning. This summer people expanded the list of things they attach to New York’s iconic bridge to headphones, hairbands and ribbons.