Love is in the fresh, spring Canberra air and lovelocks are being latched.
Lovelocks are essentially a regular padlock, often engraved with the name or initials of a couple and the date of their anniversary, that are locked onto a bridge by a loved-up couple and the key is usually thrown into the water below. These can be found on bridges all over the world, but most prominently on the Pont des Arts in Paris which recently had a whole section of the bridge collapse under the weight of thousands of kilos of padlocks.
Petitions have been launched to ban lovelocks from being placed on bridges for reasons including damage to the bridge and the environmental concern of countless keys being thrown into the water every day. One such petition was launched in Paris, gathering over 1600 signatures calling for the removal of all the lovelocks.
Given the beautiful weather we had in the ACT over the weekend, I took a walk around the Kingston end of Lake Burley Griffin and discovered a small number of these lovelocks on the small footbridge near Bowen Park. I think lovelocks are a bit cute, so I took a photo and uploaded to social media. I received a handful of responses back suggesting the locks should be cut off because of environmental reasons but also because they symbolise the myth of permanence of relationships and are therefore stupid.
It seems that the footbridge near Bowen Park isn’t the only bridge in Canberra adorned with lovelocks. The John Douglas Gordon footbridge which links Kings Park and Aspen Island has had about 10 or so lovelocks attached, all with dates from recent years. The National Capital Authority told Fairfax last month that there are no immediate plans to remove the locks, unless they begin to interfere with the maintenance schedule, in which case they will be removed.
Lovelocks are nowhere near as popular in Australia as what they are across Europe, however in recent years lovelocks have been removed from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and also from several locations in the Wollongong area.
Some people may suggest that attaching a padlock to a bridge is basically vandalism on par with graffiti, but I tend to think that unless these lovelocks are causing a severe safety risk or causing a great deal of damage then they should be left as is. If they’re not hurting anyone, why cut them off? I think they’re a nice idea, and while I agree that lifelong partnerships can’t be guaranteed and that a lock on a bridge isn’t going to ensure longevity of any relationship, I think it’s a nice symbolism of the happiness a couple would have felt whilst placing that lock on the bridge together. I’m glad that the National Capital Authority are leaving the lovelocks where they are for the time being. If I had left a lovelock on a bridge with my significant other, I’d be a bit disappointed if it was removed for no reason at all other than people not liking the way it looks.
Have any RiotACT readers left a lovelock on a Canberra bridge before, or perhaps left one of thousands on the Pont des Arts?