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Love locks that won't damage bridges in Paris or anywhere else

Love hurts ...especially when you show it by putting a lock on a bridge. Weight has made a Paris span collapse

The romance of love locks took a tumble in June when fencing on Paris' Pont des Arts crumbled a bit from the weight of all that love. Matt Ryken thinks he has the answer: a $20 virtual padlock that proclaims true love without the downside.

Matt and his wife, Trish, of Yankton, S.D., launched The Love Lock website Wednesday to provide a digital alternative to folks cluttering some of the world's most romantic cityscapes with padlocks on bridges. The idea is to affix a lock to a bridge and throw away the key as a symbol of everlasting love.

"We believe that love should be celebrated and the symbolism behind love locks provides a great way to do that," the couple says in a company statement. "We also believe that our historic structures should be preserved for both our current and future generations."

Here's how it works: You go the website and select a special date, maybe a birthday, anniversary, date you first met, whatever. A page appears with available spaces for you to post your lock. There are 100 locks available per date from Jan. 1, 1950, to Dec. 31, 2015.

For $20, you get to pick a color for your love lock, upload a photo and write sweet somethings up to five lines of 20 characters each.

The Rykens aren't the only ones who don't want to feel the padlock love. No Love Locks website launched in January by two transplants to Paris who proclaim "Free Your Love. Save Our Bridges." The website, in English and French, estimates that more than 10 bridges in Paris hold about 700,000 to 1 million padlocks -- with more added each day.

"Paris has certainly been the most excessively impacted by this trend. The City of Love has turned into the City of LOCKS," the website says.

And the tradition is spreading. What was once reserved for couples has spread to families, friends and single people who think it's a cool way to leave their mark, the website says.

The city of Edinburgh, Scotland, is taking the "if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em" approach. The Edinburgh News reports that the city invites people to "Mark Your Spot" on a specially designed platform of the Forth Road Bridge. Buy a lock for 15 pounds ($25) and it remains on the bridge permanently, with some of the cost going to charity.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times