New York City trying to discourage couples from putting 'love locks' on bridges

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Tim Fleischer reports the practice has been catching on around the world, including at the Brooklyn Bridge (WABC)

It's a modern-day version of carving your initials in a tree: couples placing padlocks on bridges.

In fact, they're called 'love locks'.

It happens around the world, including on the Brooklyn Bridge. But because of safety issues, the DOT hopes you won't lock into the idea.

"People write love stuff on it and put hearts on it," said bridge walker Nina Flournoy.

Like Nadia and Sebastian. Elana and Anna. Ellis and Tony. Locked in love, literally, to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Some, like Sasha and Benn, get extravagant and engrave their names on what appears to be an expensive lock. Others get industrial, with the locks not coming off. But most settle for the small locks and place them in what are growing clusters of locks on the bridge.

"There has been a real increase, and we're very, very concerned about them, and we remove them regularly," said the city's DOT Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg.

Only to re-appear by the hundreds, to the frustration of city DOT officials. Souvenir vendor Shawn Mills even gets requests for them.

"Thousands of them. But we're not supposed to sell them," Mills said, adding that people ask everyday if he sells them.

Many believe that Paris, 'The City of Love', is where the love lock has its strongest hold. Some bridges across the River Seine are covered with thousands of locks placed by lovers with the keys thrown in the river, prompting officials to find a way to unlock this problem.

"Most Parisians are not very happy with it. They would like to take them off," said Paris resident Pascale Favre.

In New York, officials are turning to social media like the Brooklyn Bridge Facebook page to discourage the practice.

"Please, New Yorkers and tourists, don't put locks on the bridge, don't write graffiti on the bridge," said Trottenberg.

A bridge that is undergoing repairs and repainting, and the cost of removing 3,000 locks since last fall.

"We know it's a romantic gesture, but it's not good for our bridges," Trottenberg said.

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