Based on what I see around campus, these points aren't common knowledge, but I think they should be. Bike safety/wisdom/etc. takes no effort whatsoever, and yet I still see people wrecking at high speed, getting bikes stolen and falling victim to other preventable things like that. Here are some things you can consider if you're looking to improve your on-campus bicycling experience. 1. Get the right bike for the job. People like the look of fixed-gear road bikes with skinny tires, thin frames and forward handlebars that force you to crane your head over the front wheel. Those low-resistance tires offer very little grip. Thin, lightweight frames and spokes get damaged easily by curbs, or even lumpy sidewalks. Hot Italian designer bikes get stolen first. Buy a comfy, sturdy hybrid bike - they run very cheap (often under $400) and they're usually built like tanks. They're a little heavier than road bikes, but it's all the better for your exercise. Some even have front suspension to smooth out your ride. You're not out to impress anyone with your bike so a solid, reliable machine will save you headaches in the future.
2. Consider a helmet. You may think you don't need a helmet. This could be true for 99.9% of your journeys. However, on that one-in-a-thousand trip when you wreck really bad, you might be glad you took the negligible effort of putting on the helmet. A member of my family spent an extra year and a half in college because of a head injury he got going over his bicycle handlebars. Helmets may not be right for everyone - some people ride very slowly and others claim to have fabulous hair. However, if you're riding faster than you can run, picture yourself crashing in whatever you're wearing. Would you be OK to finish the day's classes?
3. Lights. If you're going to ride on campus in the dark, you want lights - even if you're not mingling with cars. Pedestrians and other bicyclists should able to see you and they may not have your teenage nighttime eyesight. If you live in an area with a lot of desperate thieves, you may consider picking up a set of LED clip-ons that you can easily pop off when you lock up your bike.
4. Never, never override your sight. The number one factor in bicycle crashes on campus is riding too fast (universities don't like publishing the causes of bicycle crashes on their campuses, so you'll just have to trust me here). You don't need to fly around frantically to save time getting to your next class. If you ever find yourself surprised by pathway obstacles, it means you need to slow down. If you're going around a blind corner, always be prepared to stop before you reach the farthest point on your path which you can see. There could be a snake, a baby or a fax machine on the ground in front of you, or there could be someone coming the other way - you just can't know. When you're on crowded campus sidewalks between classes, don't fly downhill just because it's easy - in addition to all that speed you've built on your way down, gravity doesn't want you to stop, so you will likely underestimate your braking distance! Anyone who has biked down the path on the eastern side of the Frist Campus Center will know what I mean. I've seen some badly scarred faces on bicyclists who clobber pedestrians at hill bottoms. Just because speed is easy doesn't make it safe. Keep your eyes up, hands on your brakes.
5. Approach blind corners from the outside. So, for a left-hander in which a building blocks your visibility around the corner, approach on the right side of the sidewalk. This enables you to extend your sight farther down your path of travel. You'll spot oncoming traffic and other obstacles sooner, so you can take the corner faster and safer.
6. Look where you want to go. The human brain is somehow wired to masterfully maneuver a bicycle wherever the eyes are pointed. If you're huffing and puffing your way up a hill, don't look down at the pedals - look up at the crest, and you'll get there all the sooner. Look through the ends of corners so you can react quickly to whatever may appear on your path. If you suddenly spot a killer fax machine after entering a corner too hot, don't target fixate - look to the clear area beside the obstacle and your wheels will follow!
7. Practice emergency stops. When you were first learning, they told you to only use your rear brake, or else you'll go over the handlebars. However, when it's slippery outside, you're going to need to use both of your brakes to scrape off speed effectively in an emergency. In a quick stop, apply both brakes and lean back on the bike by tensing your arms. A lot of people panic in an emergency stop, clamping down their brake lever(s) and locking one or both wheels. This reflects inexperience with the machine and too much speed. Try not to skid either tire - since static friction (from a gripping tire) is always greater than kinetic (skidding) friction, you will minimize your stopping distance if your tires are almost skidding, but holding traction. If you lock up the rear wheel, your bike may "snake" slightly but it's unlikely anything else will happen. If you lock up your front wheel, you lose steering. Moreover, if either wheel suddenly regains traction (e.g. you come off the brake too quickly while skidding), the sudden force of the static friction may destabilize your bike and send you flying (a "high-side" crash). In short, a good stop is firm, but controlled. And the only way to get good at it is to practice it a few times on your bike.
8. Maintain your machine. The only crash I've had in the last ten years of riding is when I leaned in a turn and my front tire flopped off the rim - it was punctured and flat beyond belief. On top of being unsafe, under-inflated tires are also a lot harder to pedal. It's also worth keeping your brakes in working order. Just like helmets, working brakes might not save your life every day, but when they do, it'll be worth the negligible cost of getting them adjusted (or adjusting them yourself!). Go to a bike maintenance co-op if your campus has one and lubricate your chain as often as you remember to. If anything squeaks or rattles, see if there's a screw you can tighten down somewhere. Bikes should feel solid and predictable and it doesn't take a lot of effort to look after them - it's well worth the trouble.
9. Lock your bike FRAME to a bike rack. Some people just run a lock through their wheel, without passing the lock through the frame. This will work in a pinch, but a crafty thief will just take your wheel off and carry away your expensive machine. In my experience, thieves steal all the easily-cut cable-locked bikes from the courtyard before they try to grind off the trickier hard locks. Stick with the hard U-shaped locks. I actually carry my bike up to my room at night - if you look up, you may notice some hooks on your ceiling where you can hang the bike by its wheels. Or you can be lazy like me and just park it in the common room (sometimes met by mild disapproval from your roommates). This practice can be worth sacrificing some of your floorspace as it will protect your bike from the weather as well as nighttime thieves.
10. Electric bikes totally exist. I know because I've got one.
It's small, quiet, inconspicuous and an absolute delight. You get a lot of weird looks going up steep hills without pedaling, and you're amazed at how easy it is to get across campus in a short amount of time. In addition, I think electric bikes are actually safer than other bikes, since you're never tempted to save energy by flying down a hill too fast. You have the option to pedal if you want the workout but if you're like me at the end of a long day, the last thing you want is exercise (ew). My "e-bike" is the cheeky MoBike FU2 and if you keep your eye on craigslist, you can find it and others going for as little as a few hundred bucks. Something to consider if your dining hall, dormitory and department are all on opposite sides of the campus.
I hope one of these ten points helps you at least as much as each one has helped me. No one told me how biking at my school might be different from biking on the wide-open road. Neither biking style is easier or harder - they each present different challenges and we must compromise differently to maximize our benefit from these wonderful little machines.