Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, or so the song goes. I’ve encountered a variety of signs over the years as I’ve been riding. Some are funny, some are serious, and some are more memorable than others. Here’s a fun one from the Black Bear trail:
Needless to say, I did stay on the trail.
Where I live in northwest Arvada, there is a canal system that includes two canals running parallel to one another (Farmer’s High Line Canal and Croke Canal). The canals are paralleled by a dirt access road. When I was a runner, I often ran along a certain section of the canal with my dog, Loki. Eventually I stopped running, started biking instead, moved and didn’t return to that section of canal for several years.
Then there was a pandemic. I began to look for new, car free places to ride my bike and eventually came upon a route that included this section of canal where I had run with Loki so many years ago.
The route actually follows the canal roads, until the gates prevent access. Normally, I just ride around on the public streets as a workaround, but I found myself with a little extra time on my hands the last time I rode this route. I decided to give the phone number listed on the sign a call. Sure enough, it’s a legitimate number for Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company. They’re located over in Brighton, Colorado. The receptionist who answered my call transferred me to a gentleman I will call John*.
Initially, John had no idea where the gates were or why they would be present. As we talked, he was looking on a map trying to pinpoint my exact location, which was on the west side of Sims Street, south of the railroad tracks at 76th Street, right at the Croke Canal road. I emailed him the same picture above and here’s the response I received “I just spoke to my Leadman who handles the Croke Canal. This is FRICO’s gate. Not sure why it is there. If you want to continue riding your bike, I think you can easily go around the gate. There probably isn’t anymore gates past this one.” My conclusion with this response was that I could bypass the gate and carryon along the canal road.
As it turns out, there are more gates. But this gate and the next gate to the west are the only gates that include the No Tresspassing sign. I responded to John with a picture of the next gate, pointing out the barbed wire that adds emphasis to the threat. I just wanted to understand why there was unobstructed access to the canal for miles before this section, and then suddenly the gates. His response to my follow up email was much less friendly. Here it is in part “These gates are ours. They are to restrict access from pedestrians and vehicles as it is private property. These roads are used to maintain our canals. Like I said yesterday, technically you are trespassing by riding your bike on our access roads. They are not for public use”.
So there it is! I can’t help but think of the rest of the song lyrics: do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?? Having unencumbered access to this canal road is such a missed opportunity for the citizens of west Arvada. In a city with so many two lanes roads that do not have bike paths or sidewalks, this is a safe, traffic free alternative for walkers and bikers alike. The Farmer’s Highline Canal offers 71 miles of park space throughout the Denver metropolitan area. It’s a shame that the City of Arvada hasn’t partnered with Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company to make a similar trail system available to its residents.
* John is not John’s real name.
Loki somehow managed to be all head in this picture from his running days. He was a good friend.