The Bike Rack and The Nuclear Power Plant

With all the Nuclear Power Plant discussion going on in Pueblo right now, it reminded me of the book “Parkinson’s Law” and the Law of Triviality.   
In the book, he compares the discussions of a committee during the building of a nuclear power plant to the work of a committee considering putting up a bike rack.  The argument is that when the committee analyzes the issue of the nuclear power plant the issue is so complex that most people can’t even begin to comprehend it. So they assume that everyone else understands it, and in effect leave the matter up to the experts.  No one wants to appear silly in the face of an expert, so even people with strong opinions often withhold them for fear of being shown to be ignorant and the matter goes through. 
Now compare and contrast that with the decision about building a bicycle rack.  Everyone feels he/she can talk on this for the simple reason that the bicycle rack is, well, simple. 
So as a result of the Law of Triviality they spend more and more time discussing bike racks, because everyone wants to ensure that they can make a solid contribution. They debate the color, the design, the style… and meanwhile the nuclear power plant is built next door.

Just for the record, bike racks are not simple nor trivial in my opinion.


  1. I like this. And for the record, someone should have discussed bike racks in our community more.

  2. Actually, a good bicycle parking rack is more complex than nuclear fission and a nuclear fission power plant. The beautiful Bicycle and well designed nuclear power plants can both be exquisite. Really, there's not much that is more simple and natural than nuclear fission. I think that you will ultimately have more success promoting Bicycling,if you build a nuclear power plant. Be smart about it, think about it. Thanks for your work and the opportunity for me to write You. Keep Cycling! Sincerely, Dale.

  3. I have observed this Law of Triviality for years. I usually found that the dollar amount where discussion ended was the current price of an average new car. People understand how much money they need to buy a new car but they can't count higher than that. While serving on a small town city commission I saw a 4 million sewer project passed in less than 5 minutes but a new gas tank for a road grader at less than 500 dollars was discussed for 45 minutes. Thanks for your comments. Steve