By Toni Pergolin

This is opening day for Indego, a bike-share program that offers city dwellers and tourists access to a fleet of 600 bicycles stationed throughout Philadelphia. This access will undoubtedly offer a great new option for sight-seeing in our beautiful city — and I'm looking forward to giving it a try, too.

However, as CEO of an organization that specializes in treating people with brain injuries, I urge the thousands of people who will take advantage of Indego to take a moment to consider protecting themselves before riding.

Helmets are not required when renting a bicycle through Indego, so if you plan on taking part in the program, I strongly urge you to bring one along for the ride.

According to the Center for Head Injury Services, 75 percent of all bicyclists who die each year die of head injuries and 85 percent of head injuries in bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet. In 2009 alone, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling accidents were the cause of 86,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms, far more than those caused by football and baseball.

Helmet use is critical for riders of all ages, not just children. In fact, 84 percent of all bicycle deaths are sustained by individuals 20 years of age and older.

None of us is immune from the invisible affliction of a traumatic brain injury, a fact I'm reminded of every day as I cross paths with individuals who work tirelessly in our facility in Mt. Laurel to recover from the impact an injury has had on their lives.

While helmets might not be the most fashionable accessory, they are the safest option for keeping your head and brain safe while enjoying our city's newest attraction.

Toni Pergolin is president and chief executive officer of Bancroft. pergolin.t@bancroft.org