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A UNESCO World Heritage site, covered in plywood?

Today, I took a walk over the Pont des Arts. I hadn’t been back there since early July after yet another panel had collapsed, and the condition of the bridge was so appallingly bad on that day that I actually felt unsafe on the bridge for the first time. After having made over 40 visits to that bridge since the beginning of our campaign in January, that’s a significant statement.

I was, of course, aware that in recent weeks the City has begun simply attaching plywood boards over the worst of the collapsing panels in an effort to protect the public and to prevent new locks from being attached. But I was not at all prepared for seeing more than half the bridge boarded up! There are, as of today, 57 out of 110 plywood covered panels on the straight expanse of the iconic bridge — plywood that is also now covered from stem to stern in the ugliest graffiti. This once calm and lovely UNESCO World Heritage site has turned into just another boarded-up, graffiti-covered urban trash dump. 

How is that “love”?

And yet as ugly as it is to see all those boarded-over panels, the plywood actually makes much more sense than continuing to replace the grillwork with new wire, because the panels only fill up with locks again within mere days. Better to let visitors see the destruction and havoc their “innocent little love locks that aren’t hurting anything” (a lame protest we have heard often in the past 6 months) are actually causing. Wake up, people — if you’ve put a lock on this bridge, YOU caused this mess. Hope your “declaration of love” was worth it to you, because it certainly isn’t worth it to Parisians. Enjoy your vacation while we pay to clean up your garbage.

In any event, better to just board up the bridge than continue to pour taxpayer money down the toilette over and over again. Until the City can finally figure out how best to remove all the locks and prevent new ones from being attached — we do know they are working on this — and until the Mayor’s office is finally ready to face the reality that some people won’t stop until they know this is BANNED and that fines will be levied, there is no point in trying to replace the grills at all. Even with the boarded panels, there were still some tourists on the bridge today locking up their stupid little locks, and the illegal locks sellers are still there in force although I suspect business has dropped off now that more than 50% of the bridge is unable to accept new locks.

In the coming days, we will have more to share with you about the state of our campaign, what we know about what the city is planning to do, and what our next steps are. Until then, let me share with you the images I took today on the Pont des Arts. They will break your heart as they break mine, because this was once my favorite view in Paris. Look at it now.

— Lisa Taylor Huff

All images dated September 7, 2014 and Copyright ©No Love Locks. May not be used, distributed or copied without written permission.

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