when is something too big?

Yesterday we struggled to get to where we were going in the car because a major attraction was so large that all the local roads were backed up with cars trying to get there.

Then we struggled to find a parking space in a nearby village/town where we were going to eat lunch. Despite all the available parking spaces being taken, it was not at all obvious where all the people associated with these cars were, the shops certainly were not busy, we had the restaurant virtually to ourselves.

The maths are not that complicated, any business will need customers, but the number of customers is dependent on the number that will or can get to you. For a bricks and mortar business, they need to be able to get parked or be able to get to you via some other mode of transport, or even just live within walking distance.

For those trying to encourage economic growth, perhaps the best idea is not to focus on supporting businesses, but investing in the infrastructure that lets people access a bricks and mortar business. Putting on more trains, or better buses, or more parking, lets more people get there, let the business focus its efforts on making them want to come.

Too often the problem is a pinch point, the businesses are fine, but there is no way that enough customers could actually visit to sustain them. The importance of modal shift in traffic usage is key. Old fashioned town centres just cannot function if they rely on individual people each driving there, then seeking a parking space. The logistics of the space required to park all the cars driven by enough people to sustain all the shops is absurd. Whereas a few extra train carriages come at relatively little cost in terms of space and infrastructure, but bring in hundreds of extra customers.