Bicycle barometer effort picks up steam

Michael Downes hopes to bring
a “bicycle barometer” to Portland.

Michael Downes is relatively new to Portland but he has wasted no time in getting involved with the bike community.

After reading an article about a bicycle barometer in Italy, Downes thought it would be a perfect fit for Portland and now he has set off to make it happen.

He has started a blog for the project and he came to a recent Shift meeting to share his ideas and get feedback.

Downes said he thinks a bicycle barometer — which would display a live count of how many bicycles cross under it (among other things) — would be, “A powerful affirmation for the growing group of bicyclists in this town.”

But beyond that, he also said he hopes it can serve as an effective way to collect data about the number of cyclists on bikeways (a number that has proven to be elusive to city and state transportation officials).

Bicycle barometer installed in Bolzano, Italy.
Can’t you see one of these on the Springwater Corridor?
Photo: ELTIS

Other ideas Downes is exploring include;

He envisions the potential of not just one, but a citywide network of them.

He also wants to construct a mobile version of the barometer as a proof of concept that could be installed at events like Breakfast on the Bridge,

“That way people get to stop and I could discuss the project with them and get some feedback and hopefully drum up some support and interest. ”

Downes says the bicycle barometer currently in use in Italy was built for $20,000 and that he’s looking into partnerships and other possibilities for funding.

If you have suggestions for where a bicycle barometer should be placed in Portland, please share them in the comments. To get involved with this project, you can contact Michael at

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