Cyclist returning from church when fatally hit by school bus

By Lincoln Anderson

Although the elderly female cyclist who was struck and killed by a school bus on Delancey St. on Jan. 5 lived in an East Village residence for the deaf and disabled, she was neither.

Fuen Bai, 74, died earlier this month when she was riding her bike at Delancey and Ludlow Sts. She was heading east on Delancey at 4 p.m. when she was hit by a full-size yellow school bus that was backing up, police said.

Bai lived by herself in Tanya Towers, at 620 E. 13th St., between Avenues B and C. Tanya Towers was built in 1973 as a residence for the deaf, though today houses both deaf and hearing residents.

On Monday, Bai’s daughter and Bai’s daughter’s husband, who live Upstate, were cleaning out Bai’s sixth-floor apartment. They said Bai wasn’t deaf or disabled, and that she had been biking back home from a Chinese church service on the Bowery when she had the fatal accident. Her daughter said Bai lived at Tanya Towers because her husband, who used a wheelchair, was disabled. The husband eventually moved to a nursing home, but Bai stayed on in the apartment. She was a nurse, and retired about eight years ago.

The couple, who didn’t want to give their names, said Bai was known to Tanya Towers’ doorpersons as “The Tea Lady” and “The Candy Lady,” because she would bring them tea and candy.

“She would tell the doorman, ‘Tea good for your health — and candy for you, appreciation,’ ” her daughter said.

Bai was born in Beijing and came to the U.S. 23 years ago, she said.

“She biked since she was little,” her daughter said. “She didn’t like to take a train or bus.”

A Tanya Towers staff member said Bai really liked to cycle, and was “on her bike every day. I saw her that day [Jan. 5], because she left from here,” he said. Another staff member said residents told her that Bai used to bike to work when she was a nurse.

The daughter’s husband said they were “shocked” when they heard the news, and that it still isn’t exactly clear how it happened.

“Some people say, bus back up,” he said. “Some people say, bus hit her from behind.”

The reason it took police almost a week to release Bai’s name was because she had no ID on her, the man said. Her funeral was last Saturday.

Some Tanya Towers residents and staff apparently thought Bai was deaf. But her daughter said that was probably because her mother had limited English ability, so didn’t talk to people in the building too much. She didn’t know sign language, either.

The bus driver was not charged and there was no criminality in the incident, according to police.