With a new year comes a new sea of bikes. Shiny beach cruisers, road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes – whatever kind of bike you like or can afford. Enjoy these newly-bought squeaky-clean bikes because they won’t be clean for much longer. Contiguous with these bikes are new bike riders. I’d just like to help you out all you novice freshmen and give you some information that you might find helpful.

First off, ALWAYS lock your bike. Bike locks are made for a reason, so don’t hesitate to use them. Lock your bike to something solid. You’ll see lots of bikes around campus where they simply lock their bike to itself. Those people are idiots. Don’t follow their example. Santa Barbara and Isla Vista in general are notorious for the high rate of bike theft. If you don’t lock your bike to something, it will most likely get stolen or impounded.

Even if you just have to leave your bike for a minute to get that large vanilla latte or grab a piece of paper, lock up your bike. Or you can use the whole live-and-learn attitude, which will dent your wallet due to the fact that you’ll have to buy a new bike.

Secondly, LEARN how to ride a damn bicycle. I know it’s been a few years since your parents took off your training wheels, but I see some bikers that should have them put back on. All you have to do is balance, peddle and pay attention. Practice on the weekends, practice in I.V., just get off the damn bike paths. Over summer the bike paths were bliss – they were empty, and for the most part, there weren’t bad bicyclists. Now the bike paths are overcrowded with ignorant freshmen.

Most of you are probably new to the roundabout, so I’ll let you know how it works. The people that are in the roundabout have the right of way. So, if you are in the roundabout, KEEP peddling. Don’t stop because you see someone biking toward the roundabout. It makes me angry and bitter when I am cruising at a good pace and then suddenly the person in front of me slams on his or her brakes. Also, don’t go the wrong way in the bike path because it’s quicker. If you do, you are an imbecile and you deserve to be struck by thunder, or rabid pit bulls.

The bike path is like the freeway in a sense – slow bicyclists to the right, fast bicyclists to the left. Don’t ride in the middle of the bike path. No one likes a Sunday biker when you’re racing to class late and one person decides to take up the entire lane. Sure, you may be biking with your friend and talking, but don’t take up the entire goddamned bike lane. I’m all for multi-tasking, so if you can ride your bike while talking on your cell phone then do it. But make sure you are actually capable of doing it. I’ve seen quite a few people crash due to the fact that they were talking on their phone and not paying attention and then — WHAM — they crash. I’ve seen some pretty bad bike crashes where an ambulance had to be called. For my sake and yours, please be responsible when riding your bike.

Lastly, don’t ride your bike after you’ve been drinking. Sure, it’s fun – I can attest to that – but it’s not the smartest thing to do. Biking drunk is equivalent to you being the pinball for a row of cars and people. You don’t want to get a bicycling under the influence (BUI.). It’s not worth it. Stumble home drunk, even if you have to walk all the way down Camino Corto.

Anyway, have a fun year, and try to keep the bike lanes safe. The less accidents, the better the year will be. You’re bound to get in at least one accident, so learn from it and get back on the bike. Party on, UCSB!