Highway deaths last year fell to their lowest level since 1949 but the number of bicyclists and pedestrians dying on America's roads continued to rise, federal safety regulators said Monday.
Overall traffic fatalities fell 1.9% to 32,367 in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roadway deaths have been falling steadily for some time, the agency said, and last year's level represented a 26% decline from 2005.
However, bicycle deaths rose 8.7% to 677 and pedestrian deaths rose 3% to 4,432, the NHTSA said.
"Fatalities are more of an urban phenomenon," said Ted Rogers, who writes the BikinginLA.com blog.
"You have high population areas like California where you have a lot of deaths, and then you have rural states that don't have the traffic, they don't have the cyclists," said Rogers, who tracks cyclist deaths in the region.
Last year, he said, 70 cyclists in the seven-county Southern California region died in various road mishaps. That is up from the 49 in the previous year.