Marcus Coenen

Marcus Coenen
Senior Transportation Planner
Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
Des Moines, Iowa


Central Iowa’s 600-mile regional bike trail system was beginning to crack and show signs of age. The Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization wanted to find a way to collect data about pavement conditions so that the cities along the trail could plan repairs.


The organization (federally mandated and funded) decided to try a bicycle-based data collection method using a smartphone app (rRuf) and a GoPro to take photos of the trail as it passes, documenting the condition of the pavement. The geo-referenced pictures will allow planners, sitting at their desks, to review the entire trail network.

At the same time, a partner, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, wanted to expand the project to collect images for Google Street View to promote tourism. So a 360-degree camera (that balances on a pole on the back of the bike) was added to the setup. In June, the Foundation provided an intern to ride the trail.

About 300 miles have been photographed so far, and the rest should be done by October.

Marcus’s Background

Born in Council Bluffs (western Iowa, across the river from Omaha), and raised an hour southwest of Des Moines, where he was active in sports and ran track. Bachelor’s in history (’11) and master’s in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa (’13). Married with two cocker spaniels named Darts and Cablecar. Currently renovating house and loves hiking.

Marcus’s Job

In charge of data collection and performance management. Also maintains the metro’s travel demand model to forecast traffic.

Startling Fact

Homebrews IPA beer. (To remind you: India Pale Ale style is “characterized by an abundance of hops” and although dating back to 1840, today is a part of the craft beer craze.)

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