The Paralympic Games could spark the traffic chaos that the Olympics didn’t because they overlap with the start of the new school year - and people may have taken their eye off the ball after the main event.
As the nation basks in Olympic glory, expectations are rising that the Paralympics, which begin on 29 August, could be a sell-out for the first time in its history.
However, Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London at the Freight Transport Association, warned that the Paralympics was second only to the Olympics in scale and that there was a danger of complacency setting in now the Olympics were over.
“The Olympic Games went really well,” she said. “My only nervousness is that people might start to relax and not put as much care and attention into the Paralympics as they should.
“The second week of the Paralympics is when all the schools go back and a lot of people will be going back to work too. With the summer holiday dip over, there’s a risk that everyone will return to their normal travel patterns and we’ll end up with traffic problems.”
Chapman added the Olympics had run smoothly because of the huge amount of planning ahead of the event. “It’s really important we keep that momentum going.”
One company with its foot firmly on the Paralympics pedal is Sainsbury’s. This week, it accelerated its campaign with a TV ad featuring David Beckham and Paralympic athletes, as well as a Paralympics Torch Relay that will visit 61 Sainsbury’s stores across the UK over a 10-day period.
As the first-ever sole sponsor of the Paralympics, the retailer is preparing for a major boost in profile. Its logo will feature on the bibs of all the athletes, as well as in every Paralympic venue. It will also be issuing staff special Paralympics T-shirts to wear during the Games. The two designs were created by Sainsbury’s workers Jagoda Wichurska from Maidenhead and Jonathan Tanser from Burton-on-Trent following a company-wide competition.
Some 5,000 staff representing every region of the UK will also attend the Wheelchair Basketball on 3 September, in an event Sainsbury’s has dubbed ‘Turn the Park Orange’. It has booked 65 coaches and 300 flights to get staff to the Olympic Park.
Sainsbury’s has been preparing for the Paralympics for some time. It launched its One Million Kids Challenge in April last year to get one million children to try out a Paralympic sport, and also held a ‘Super Saturday’ festival in London last summer.