PORTLAND -- Thousands of children from 60 Portland schools and 18 in Beaverton are expected to celebrate International Walk + Bike to School Day Wednesday by doing just that, walking and biking to school.

Roughly 150 children will accompany Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick and Portland Timbers mascot Timber Joey as they make their way to Maplewood Elementary School in Southwest Portland, said a Portland Bureau of Transportation official. At the school, teachers, parents and community leaders will talk about the health and safety benefits of being active.

The city spokesperson said children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and while rates of child obesity have soared in recent decades, walking and biking to school has become more uncommon.

Forty two percent of the trips to Portland elementary schools are now made on foot or by bike, a 35 percent increase since 2006, the city said. The national average is 12 percent.

The October 9 event will celebrate the city s Safe Routes to School program which has helped encouraged parents and kids to bike and walk.

Organizers expect 1,780 schools world-wide will participate in tomorrow s event.

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