Cycling is pretty massive in Cambridge and sadly there are loads and loads of injuries (including some fatalities) to students each year. We don't want this to happen to you!
Get lights. They're not that expensive, although cheapy cheap ones often turn out to be rubbishy rubbish. You may be fined £30 if the police stop you on one of their regular checks (Selwyn and Grange Road residents beware of this especially at the traffic lights by the Sidgewick site) and it's really important that cars can see you at night. There are also lots of other things like bicycle clips, harnesses etc you can use to make yourself all sparkly and visible if you so desire, but lights are still necessary as the absolute minimum. Remember that it will starts getting dark around 4pm towards the end of Michaelmas term.
There's lots of conflicting research and views on helmets, and the debate is still raging on whether the extra protection to your head in the event of a crash outweighs the likelihood that you will be a more reckless cyclist when wearing one. However, if you don't have one and would like one, there is a Pembroke Students discount with the lovely people at Cambridge Cycle Centre (8 Botolph Lane, very close to college). They will sell you their £24.99 helmet at a 20% discount for £20 if you talk nicely to them (and mention that you're from Pembroke), which is almost certainly the cheapest helmet being sold in Cambridge at the moment.
Cambridge, as well as being full of bikes is full of people who would quite like to steal bikes. Get a good lock (a D-lock or fairly chunky cable lock is perfect) and never leave your bike unlocked, even for just a minute or in college. If you want to leave your bike in Cambridge over a vacation it is often wise to leave it in one of the bike racks in college rather than outside your hostel. Your bike will also be more traceable following a theft if you register it on a police database such as immobilise or label it (with tippex or similar) with a V (for Pembroke) followed by your 5-digit pembroke number eg V28XXX.
Otherwise its just a question of being a bit sensible. For example:
- Don't cycle on the pavement, wrong side of the road or pedestrian only zones (signposted).
- Don't cycle after too much alcohol (whilst amusing, this is illegal and you can be fined).
- Don't skip red traffic lights (the police do regular checks around the city to catch and fine cheeky cyclists who momentarily think they are pedestrians).
- Use one-way streets in the correct direction (specifically Fitzwilliam Street, Trinity Street and outside Sainsbury's).
- Wear your lights and keep your bike in working order (brakes for example).
- Be extra careful when wet or icy.
- Be considerate to other road users.
- And so on.