LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of Southland students Wednesday were taking part in Los Angeles’ inaugural citywide “Walk to School Day”.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation provided planning and logistical support to the Los Angeles Unified School District for “Walk to School Day” events.

Mayor Eric Garcetti says the event is the first of many activities planned to increase the number of students walking and bicycling to class.

Dr. Lisa Santora, chief medical officer for the Beach Cities Health District, was one of the architects behind the “Walking School Bus” program in the beach cities of Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan.

“Today, about 15 percent of students are walking to school every day on a regular basis,” she told KNX1070.

“With the walking school bus, we have parents who are walking with children and chaperoning them on the walk to school, so that makes a safe environment for our children to be walking to school relieving some of the fear that parents may have.”

“Walk to School Day”, which began in 1997, was organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. The International Walk to School Day is expected to include more than 5,000 schools from all 50 states as well as 40 countries, resulting in nearly 4 million people participating worldwide.

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