The New York Post has been writing about the fact that in a recent spate of cases where a driver struck and killed a pedestrian on the sidewalk, no charges have been filed against the drivers. The Post stories question whether New York needs to upgrade its current traffic laws to better protect the safety of the millions of people who walk on the sidewalks on the city every day.

And they are not alone.

Many public safety groups have joined together to get the city to crack down on drivers in an effort to not only better protect pedestrians but also those who use bicycles to get around. The city has recently installed a number of new bicycle only lanes in areas which were once the domain of cars, leading to angry confrontations between car drivers and bicyclists, and a few serious collisions.

According to the New York Post story, five drivers have struck pedestrians on sidewalks in the past month and not one of them faced what the Post calls ‘stiff penalties.’ This would seem to fly in the face of logic. After all, sidewalks are reserved for non-motorized transports, perhaps especially cars. There is also a relative expectation of safety if you are walking on a sidewalk. If you walk in the street you likely understand you are in the domain of cars, but if you are on the sidewalk the last thing you might expect is to be confronted by a car. But it does happen.

Right now in New York, prosecutors must prove a driver was acting “recklessly” when they drove onto the sidewalk and struck a pedestrian. This is difficult because it means they must prove the drive did what they did for no reason other than because they wanted to. Any excuse, from looking away briefly, to changing the station on the radio, is often enough for them to avoid serious charges. And as the New York Post points out, that is often what happens.