Usee fewer and 70,000 trees planted: In mid-May, back in business after a failed presidential election, Anne Hidalgo presented her project to the Paris ring road. Once again, the capital’s mayor is attacking cars – which she has already driven out of the riverbanks during her previous term – and triggering fierce opposition. But the socialist is not alone: these mobility overhaul projects with a very controversial potential are also the work of David Belliard, his transport assistant. The former head of the EELV’s municipal list, gathered for Anne Hidalgo in the between-two towers, chose this portfolio … which allows him to push his vision of the transformation of the city. Even if it means forcing a less radical mayor it?
“He could have hidden himself, but he chose these topics,” emphasizes Frédéric Hocquard, assistant to tourism and nightlife, from Génération • s, who often works with David Belliard. It’s brave because it’s a complicated case in Paris … ”The ecologist nods in reference to the insulting letters – sometimes threatening – that he regularly receives. “It is a difficult policy that irritates. You have to be a little persistent. ‘It is that the forties have inherited the hot files of the mandate. Development of cycle paths, pedestrians, limited traffic zone in the center of the capital, paid parking for motorized two-wheelers … It is behind most of the major projects that share Paris.
“His problem is that he does not have a mobility policy, but an anti-car policy,” irritates Pierre Chasseray, general delegate of the 40 Million Bilists association. Same story on the side of the LR group at the Council of Paris, whose spokeswoman Aurélien Véron accuses David Belliard of throwing Paris into “general chaos” with an “anti-car plan”. An elected representative in war against the car? The green assistant likes to remember that the first thing he did, the day after he turned 18, was get his driver’s license. He even wanted 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 foster mother had to own two to go to work, in an area without a bus, and whose station was closed. “The car is both autonomy and task. We have to stop with this story of freedom that people often swing after me, it’s complete shit. When my dad has to spend 200 euros on changing tires, 80 euros on filling up, crossing fingers to avoid repairs … That’s not what being free is about. »
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Of course, the car meets needs, but it is not always usable, argues the chosen one. And since Paris is not the Haut-Saônoise landscape, there are alternatives. “We are reconsidering this issue of freedom. Getting around is fundamental, but in Paris it does not necessarily go by car. And to ensure that the development of cycle paths, public transport or pedestrian crossings provides even more freedom than the car model. It remains to ensure that this possibility is maintained for those who can scarcely do without it, such as professionals or people with reduced mobility.
When we listen to David Belliard, we have no choice but to switch software. “We are in a model that does not think the limit. But our world is limited! “In Paris, the car encounters a limit of space -” even elsewhere, when you overtake a citizen, you nibble on agricultural land “- an ecological limit and a social limit with the prices of fuels flying away, 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 ecologist therefore wants to review the division of public space to make it fairer and force the car to give way. But would he not go too far? Anne Hidalgo does not go out of her way when it comes to transforming the capital, but some suspect David Belliard of being the little green devil on the city councilor’s shoulder who is pushing her to become even more radical. “Emmanuel Gregoire [le premier adjoint, NDLR] is not reassured by the Belliard method, understands Aurélien Véron, the spokeswoman for the elected Paris LRs. But between his political fragility and the absence of Anne Hidalgo, who was occupied by the presidential election, there is no counter-power against him! »
“We are not in this relationship of extortion that some, Emmanuel Grégoire demines, fantasize about, 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’s, the double. The transport assistant gets along quite well with the mayor: in terms of sharing public spaces, they are right on the same wavelength. But unlike his predecessor Christophe Najdowski, occupied by the socialist majority, David Belliard has been in able to maintain his independence with his environmental group, which forces him to go further … And to clearly draw attention to his disagreements, as if the project of reorganizing the Gare du Nord or the one around the Eiffel Tower.
He does not like big projects prove and prefers to concentrate on less spectacular files, but much more efficient according to him. His political group and his 10.8% in the local elections – before the alliance in the second round with Anne Hidalgo – offer him a balance of power that he knows how to exploit. “When you get 250 million euros on the bike plan, when the budget is limited, you can speed up the streets to schools [piétonnisation des abords des écoles, NDLR], it is because the observations are divided, but also by the influence that we exert on the majority. “He carries this political identity, and helps to make it credible, acceptable and less radical,” greets Emmanuel Grégoire. It is a facilitating element. »
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“It’s the apprentice in the shorts!” »
His political opponents also accuse him of lack of consultation and some dogmatism, like Pierre Chasseray, who regrets that there is “no possible discussion” about mobility in Paris. “He is someone who is very closed, not conciliatory or very attentive,” accuses Aurélien Véron, describing a deputy “quite an amateur in his methods”. “It’s the apprentice in shorts who wants to change Paris!” »
Blames that make David Belliard laugh gently. “When I hear elected officials say to the Paris Council that we have no consultation since we held a meeting together the week before … We must not confuse ‘not to discuss’ and ‘not to agree’.” Others also believe , that they are listened to quite well, as Paris a selle association, which, however, criticizes “the slow spread of the cycle plan” and “not optimal political governance”.
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The deputy acknowledges that it is always possible to do better in consultation, but makes sure to stick to the project that was hailed by voters in 2020. He takes comfort in noting that the projects that are sometimes heavily criticized , are well received once delivered. But the right wing does not give in: “There is no method, it is freewheeling! “” They no longer have an attachment point, so they attack us on the method, “points out David Belliard. Rather, they have an interest in caricaturing me as a terrible ideologue. The problem is that the people who vote for them also get on their bikes … “