Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets under control after a cyclist was hospitalised in an incident in a St Helens park.
An 83-year-old man was taken to hospital after coming off his bike in Taylor Park when a dog started chasing a ball thrown by its owner.
It is thought the pensioner suffered injuries to his leg, ribs, head and shoulder in the incident, which happened on Monday April 25.
Regular park visitors are now calling for people to take more care when exercising their four-legged friends in the park and asked St Helens Council to take action to make the popular area safer.
Local resident and park user Pete Yates said: “Perhaps this serious incident will focus the minds of the players in the long-running and seemingly unresolvable debate about dog fouling and dog control in our public spaces.
“The two most vociferous camps involved, the upset or concerned general public and the responsible dog owners, seem unable to reach any kind of agreement on a way forward.
“The council could designate areas where dogs must be on leads and, by definition, areas where dogs are free to run and socialise. Doing so would attach dogs to their owners. “No-one is suggesting dogs should be banned from our parks but in Taylor Park there are areas where cyclists are told to get off their bikes to minimise clashes with the walking public, but dogs can run around anywhere.
“Let’s stop pussy-footing around and see some action to address this serious problem before we have an even more serious accident.”
The local authority said it is working with Merseyside Police to see if any further action should be taken against the dog owner in the most recent incident.
The town hall also refused to rule out tougher action to prevent irresponsible dog ownership but said there would need to be extensive consultation before any bans on pets or other sanctions were proposed.
A St Helens Council spokesman said: “Clearly this was a very serious incident and we wish the cyclist a speedy recovery.
“We work closely with Merseyside Police to deal with incidents in our parks and are currently liaising with them to see what action can be taken in this instance.
“Longer-term, we are aware that tighter controls may be appropriate to protect park users and allow them to enjoy our open spaces in safety.
“Any action we take, however, has to take into account the views of all park users.”