Usee less and plant 70,000 trees: in mid-May, back in business after a failed presidential candidacy, Anne Hidalgo presented her project for the Paris ring road. Once again, the mayor of the capital is attacking the cars – which he had already taken off the banks of the river during his previous term – and triggering a virulent opposition. But the socialist is not alone: these mobility remodeling projects with very controversial potential are also the work of David Belliard, his transport assistant. The former head of the municipal list of EELV, meeting Anne Hidalgo in the middle of the two towers, chose this portfolio … which allows him to promote his vision of the transformation of the city. Even if it means imposing it on a less radical mayor?
“He could have hidden himself, but he chose these topics,” says Frédéric Hocquard, Génération • s’ tourism and nightlife assistant, who often works with David Belliard. It’s brave because it’s a complicated case in Paris … ”The environmentalist nods, referring to the insulting – sometimes threatening – letters he regularly receives. “It’s a difficult, annoying policy. You have to be a little tenacious. “It simply came to our notice then. Development of bike lanes, pedestrianization, limited traffic area in the center of the capital, paid parking for two motorized wheels … It is behind most of the major projects that divide Paris.
The car assistant?
“His problem is that he is not pursuing a mobility policy but an anti-car policy,” said Pierre Chasseray, general manager of the 40 Million Motorists Association. The same story by the LR group at the Paris Council, whose spokesman Aurélien Véron accuses David Belliard of plunging Paris into “general chaos” with an “anti-car plan”. An elected official in war against the automobile? The green assistant likes to remember that the first thing he did, the day after he turned 18, was take out his card. He would even like it to be free.
He who grew up in Haute-Saône knows that the car can be vital. He remembers that his bricklayer father and his caring mother had to have two to go to work, in an area without a bus and whose station was closed. “The car is both autonomous and commissioned. We have to stop with this story of freedom that people often brandish to me, it is completely shit. When my father has to spend 200 euros to change the tires, 80 euros to fill them, cross his fingers to avoid repairs … This is not what is free. »
READ ALSOEconomy: Do we stop joking?
The car meets the needs, of course, but it is not always useful, argues the chosen one. And since Paris is not the camp of the Haute Saône, there are alternatives. “We are rethinking this issue of freedom. Getting around is essential, but in Paris you don’t necessarily have to drive. And to ensure that the urbanization of bike lanes, public transport or pedestrian spaces offers even more freedom than the all-car model. It remains to ensure that this possibility is maintained for those who can hardly do without it, such as professionals or people with reduced mobility.
Listening to David Belliard, we have no choice but to change software. “We are in a model that does not think about the limit. But our world is limited! “In Paris, the car has a space limit -” even elsewhere, when you drive a national, you bite on farmland “- an ecological limit and a social limit with the prices of fuels that not to mention the maintenance of vehicles, expenses. The deputy insists: it is the poorest who suffer the most from pollution and noise pollution. “The rich do not live near the ring road …”
The environmentalist therefore wants to revise the sharing of public space to make it fairer, forcing the car to give way. But wouldn’t it go too far? Anne Hidalgo does not succeed in transforming the capital, but some suspect that David Belliard is the little green devil on the shoulder of the councilor who pushes him to be even more radical. “Emmanuel Gregoire [le premier adjoint, NDLR] he is not reassured by the Belliard method, understands Aurélien Véron, the spokesman for the elected LR in Paris. But between his political fragility and the absence of Anne Hidalgo who was occupied by the presidential election, there is no counterpower against him! »
“We are not in this relationship of blackmail fantasized by some,” says Emmanuel Grégoire, “but in co-construction. “Frédéric Hocquard smiles.” How do you expect Anne Hidalgo to be held hostage? The EELV group has only 23 elected officials, the mayor, twice as many. The transport assistant gets along quite well with the mayor: when it comes to sharing public spaces, they are rather on the same wavelength. But unlike his predecessor Christophe Najdowski, absorbed by the socialist majority, David Belliard has managed to maintain independence with his environmental group, which pushes him to go further … And to make clear his disagreements, as in the Gare du Nord reorganization project or the one surrounding the Eiffel Tower.
He doesn’t like big projects show and prefers to focus on less spectacular tabs, but much more effective according to him. His political group and 10.8% in the municipal elections – before the alliance in the second round with Anne Hidalgo – offer him a balance of power that he knows how to take advantage of. “When you get 250 million euros in the bicycle plan when the budget is limited, you can speed up the streets in schools. [piétonnisation des abords des écoles, NDLR], it is because the observations are shared, but also because of the influence we exert on the majority. “It carries this political identity, and helps to make it credible, acceptable and less radical,” says Emmanuel Grégoire. It is a facilitating element. »
READ ALSOMunicipal – David Belliard (EELV): “We need a real break”
“He’s the apprentice in shorts!” »
His political opponents also accuse him of lack of consultation and some dogmatism, such as Pierre Chasseray who laments that “there is no possible discussion” on mobility in Paris. “He is a very closed person, not very conciliatory or very attentive,” accuses Aurélien Véron, who describes a deputy as “quite amateur in his methods.” “He’s the apprentice in shorts who wants to change Paris!” »
Quotes that make David Belliard laugh softly. “When I hear elected officials tell the Paris Council that we have no consultation when we had a meeting together the previous week … We should not confuse ‘not discussing’ and ‘not agreeing.’ Others are also considered quite well-heard, such as the Paris en selle association, which, however, criticizes “the slow deployment of the bicycle plan” and “poor political management.”
READ ALSOIPCC report: tools to curb global warming
The MP acknowledges that it is always possible to do better in consultation, but says he will stick to the project acclaimed by voters in 2020. He is comforted by noting that projects that are sometimes widely criticized are well received once delivered. But the right does not move: “There is no method, it is a free wheel! “They no longer have a point of attachment so they attack us by the method,” says David Belliard. Rather, they have an interest in caricaturing me as a horrible ideologue. The problem is that the people who vote for them also get on their bikes … ”