Bicycle deaths jumped nearly 9 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to data [PDF] released today by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. The total fatalities for cyclists rose from 623 to 677, an increase of 8.7 percent. But injuries to cyclists were down by nearly the same degree, falling from 52,000 to 48,000, a decline of 7.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the vehicle fatality rate fell 1.9 percent to 1.1 per 100 million miles, the lowest rate ever recorded. Total vehicle miles traveled dropped 1.2 percent.
Experts said the jump in bike deaths could be related to a positive trend -- there are more people riding to work and for fun. For example, in Washington, D.C., there has been a 175 percent increase in bikers during rush hour since 2004. As Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the AP:
"Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations,” Adkins said. “We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely."
Top image: Flickr user laverrue.