There is much more than corn and soy beans in Iowa. The state is known for its stunning vistas and wide open spaces; it’s beautiful spring and summer weather and cool autumn evenings make it the near perfect place to cruise on a bike or just take a walk.

Unfortunately, all this outdoor, non-automobile activity has its downside as state officials have noted a severe increase in the number of deaths of motorcycle riders and pedestrians this year. Although 2011 the state posted its lowest level in nearly four decades the upswing in deaths has some state safety advocates wondering if it signals a terrible new trend upward.

The Nebraska Office of Highway Safety says there is no need to worry, however. They said that mild weather this past summer meant more people were hitting the roads on motorcycles, more people were out walking or running on roadways. This increase in activity meant more chances for an accident. They also attribute the increase in fatalities to a failure on the part of this same group to practice safety when out on the roads, regardless of what they might be doing there. Alcohol was a factor in many of the deadly crashes as was a failure to wear proper safety gear such as brightly lit or reflective clothing for pedestrians.

In Iowa, 248 people had died as of Friday compared with 222 at the same point last year. For all of 2011, Iowa recorded its lowest number of traffic deaths — 364 — since 1944.

Through the end of August, the Hawkeye State had 42 motorcycle deaths compared with 28 at the same point last year. Ten pedestrians had died compared with 11 in all of last year.

While Iowa’s road fatalities have gone up this year, they are comparable with the state’s traffic deaths from 2006 through 2010.