A cyclist was fighting for life last night after crashing as he swerved to avoid two young boys.

The 49-year-old cyclist swerved to avoid hitting the boys, aged four and six, as they played on skateboards in South Street, Lewes.

The cyclist from Lewes was last night still being treated at Kings College Hospital in London for serious head injuries.

The boys' mother told The Argus: “My children saw the whole thing and were very upset by it. They still are extremely upset.”

Residents said the road was often used as a cut-through into the town centre by cyclists.

Neighbour Amanda Rousham said: “There's a couple of little boys who play on their skateboards in the evening.”

She added: “It sounds like a real tragedy.

“The road is very narrow here and there are a lot of parked cars and there wouldn't have been much space to manoeuvre.

“It sounds like he did everything he could to try to avoid hitting the children and came off very badly.”

Residents and customers from the Snowdrop Inn who witnessed the collision at about 6.40pm on Sunday tried to give the cyclist first aid and blocked the road until police and the air ambulance arrived.

Dominic McCartan, licensee at the Snowdrop, said the road is used as a cut through by cyclists.

“Some of our customers were leaving the pub and stopped to help. One of my staff stopped the traffic coming down until the police arrived.

“I haven't seen any of them since but everyone will have been very upset by it. And I would think the children's parents will be very upset about what's happened.”

Sussex Air Ambulance landed in a nearby car park before taking the cyclist to King's College Hospital, where he was last night still in a critical condition.

A resident of South Street, who did not wish to be named, said: “We see a few little ones on skateboards, mainly before and after school.”

Sussex Police are appealing for any witnesses who saw the collision to call 101, quoting Operation Padstow.