You’ve heard the rumors that the Gauchos get around. On bikes, that is. In an attempt to prevent you from being schooled on the bike path like the newbs that you are, here are a few navigational tips:

First off, practice makes perfect. Remember when your parents used to tell you, “It’s just like riding a bicycle. You never forget”? Well, they were wrong. You do forget. Rather than hop on your spankin’ new powder blue beach cruiser for the first time Thursday morning, take some time to familiarize yourself with the bike path before the more experienced cyclists share it with you. Trust me, on the first day of class, bike traffic is more congested than the I-405 at rush hour.

Which brings me to my second point – bike accidents. With all those bikes, you are bound to be involved in a collision at least once in your four-year stay at UCSB. But that doesn’t mean you have to cause it.

Traffic roundabouts aren’t that confusing, assuming you managed to pass high school geometry without copying off your neighbor’s work. Anticipate the direction you need to go before entering the circle and be aware of those around you. And please, don’t come to a screeching halt in the middle of the path. If you do, you run the risk of getting pummeled by speeding bikes, not to mention receiving the occasional stink eye from passersby. I’m warning you, don’t even think of answering your phone or texting while biking.

Unlike your car, your cruiser doesn’t come with air bags. You might also be tempted to mimic your neighbor on the road who’s biking hands-free, even playing the guitar as he speeds by. But slow down, Flobot, you can’t ride your bike with no handlebars. If you manage to scrape by accident free, you’ll want to look after your bike. Take it from me – whose cruiser has chronically tilted handlebars, a crooked seat and a spider living in its front fender – maintenance is essential. Pedal yourself over to the Associated Students Bike Shop for some free chain lube and air to keep your bike running smoothly. Yeah, that’s right, your bike needs lubrication every now and then, too.

Most importantly, learn to park and lock your bikes to the racks dispersed around campus. If you think that your little cruiser is simply too cute to be confined to a bike rack, you’ll find yourself trekking to the Community Safety Organization Office and paying $24 to rescue your impounded bike. Oh, and pay the extra money for a U-lock. They’re much more reliable than cable locks and may even deter prowling thieves. It’s inevitable that you’ll ignore my advice. You’ll park your shiny cruiser – paid for by mommy and daddy, of course – outside your lecture hall locked to itself with a cable wire, and it’ll get jacked.

When that time comes, you’ll be left to walk or skateboard. Those that choose the latter are in for a special treat: new skateboarding lanes. You, my friends, are the guinea pigs.

The administration has paid a pretty penny to install trial skateboarding lanes – marked with signs and snazzy yellow lines – that run from the Humanities and Social Sciences Building to Girvetz Hall. Because the lanes do not span the entire campus, there are a few things you four-wheelers will want to keep in mind:

Do not, under any circumstances, skateboard through Pardall Tunnel. The police officers lurking around campus that prey on unsuspecting bikers and boarders will slam you with a hefty fine. Also, don’t board on the bike paths. There is a reason the campus has two distinct paths. And for all you old-fashioned pedestrians, look before you cross. Even though you think you have the right of way, odds are most boarders and bikers zooming to class won’t even think twice before running your ass over. I wouldn’t take any chances if I were you.

With my pearls of wisdom, and a little common sense, you should have no problem adapting to the rules of the road here at UCSB.