All are invited to ride along with me on my morning bicycle outing at 9 a.m. Aug. 11, as I hope to be joined in Town Center by neighbors, friends and family for the "Bike with Mayor Ike" event.

This will kick off Grove City's annual EcoFest, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., sponsored by Mount Carmel Health.

Planned in collaboration with multiple local nonprofit environmental groups and community organizations, EcoFest is a family-friendly festival on a mission to encourage a healthier community by using education and entertaining experiences to promote innovation and sustainability.

Spotlighting innovation, COSI representatives join us at 11 a.m. to recognize and honor Grove City's first COSI STEM Star, a nominated individual from our community who champions science, technology, engineering or math.

What a fun and fantastic way to learn about reducing our carbon footprint!

The festival features a Sustainability Zone with demonstrations and hands-on education, enabling us to lessen our consumption of resources. Learn methods for utilizing the renewable, organic resources Earth provides, such as solar energy and rain water harvesting, gardening and pollination techniques.

Everyone benefits in the Health and Wellness Zone where vendors share options and activities to improve physical well-being. Watching children of all ages learn through enviro-friendly play and artistic expression in the Kids and Art Zone is a joy for me. They seem to relish the opportunity to create, share and experience play with upcycled materials, without electronics.

Through fun and play, EcoFest helps us connect our personal choices to community and planetary sustainability. We only have this one planet and we should make strides to protect it for generations to come.

I may be a bit biased, but tuning your bicycle and saddling up for short-distance trips is a great way to start.

Bikes are more than a form of recreation or play. They can be a quite practical form of transportation with benefits to reduce our impact on the environment. I recently learned a U.S. National Household Travel Survey found that if we all choose to bike or walk for just half of our car trips under a mile, it would be equivalent to taking approximately 400,000 cars off the road each year and save more than 2 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually.

Doing our part to improve the environment and provide enjoyable outdoor options for relaxation and exercise, Grove City continues to grow and connect more than 26 miles of pathways throughout the community, soon to be equipped with trail signs emanating from Town Center.

In doing so, we cultivate the walkability and bikeability of our neighborhoods and commerce areas, making every-day resources attainable through a more environmentally friendly means.

The wheels of my bike have covered every mile of those pathways and I look forward to biking a portion of them with you Aug. 11, sharing just how fun it is to feel the wind in your face while positively impacting the environment. Take a step toward lowering your carbon footprint by riding your bicycle to EcoFest to join me!

After completing the nearly 6-mile course, circle back to Town Center, securely park your bike in the Yay Bikes! bicycle valet at no cost and enjoy EcoFest. It is my hope that all who attend enjoy the eco-friendly lifestyle tips to improve our lives, appreciating the importance of community participation and environmental responsibility.

Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage is serving his fifth term as mayor.