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Humans of Healthcare: John McLean

12:45 AM · Jun 3, 2022

On any given weekday, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, riding down Stewart Parkway, you might spot a small, bright yellow, missile-shaped bicycle riding down the street. Inside the enclosed Strata bicycle frame is John McLean, a 69-year-old dialysis nurse who has worked for DaVita and Mercy for 31 years. Being a dialysis nurse is not an easy task, but McLean said he enjoys his work and is grateful to still be doing it. “It’s a hard job, it’s a grueling profession, but it’s another one of those grooves you fall into,” McLean said. “I fell into it by accident and I stuck with it.” McLean and his wife moved to Roseburg from the Tenmile area and John began to ride a bike or his Strata velomobile to work almost every day, rain or shine. He uses his velomobile primarily for commuting and he said it has saved him thousands of dollars, even before gas prices increased to $5 per gallon, and makes his day go better. Before he got the iconic yellow velomobile in 2011, he rode a town bike. He had to be more prepared for the weather with spare clothes and extra layers, but he said it was worth it. “There are a lot of compromises if you want to be a year-round, pedal-powered commuter,” McLean said. “Occasionally, I have ridden my two-wheeler to work, but it’s the exception. In the worst of winter, the most I wear is a hooded sweatshirt. It’s low, fully enclosed, and aerodynamic. Once you get up to speed, it’s easy to maintain that speed.” He rides in the lane of travel. The bike lanes are very narrow compared to the width of the velomobile and he rides close to the speed of traffic. Oregon law allows bicyclists to ride in the lane of traffic if they deem the bike lane inadequate and would be unsafe on the sidewalks. “When my wife and I were raising our children, we lived out past Tenmile,” McLean said. “I worked in Roseburg and I just got so tired of that drive, going back and forth - we wore out cars driving. I was spending $350 a month on gasoline in the early 2000s. The first day we lived in Roseburg, I rode my bike to work and it was just like heaven. It is such a ridiculous luxury to ride a bike to work. All of a sudden, we didn’t need two cars. I’ve relished riding a bike to work, and it’s a great way to start the day. I’ve turned from a country boy into an urban dweller and I really like the opportunity to be human-powered to the extent that I’m able. It just becomes part of your nature. It feels good and you just keep doing it.” Any time McLean and his wife have time off and the weather is decent, they go for walks or bike rides on their tandem tricycle. Their passion for biking has carried on with their family, too as their young granddaughter is learning on her balance bike. The iconic yellow velomobile will keep on representing McLean’s passion for bike and caring for those in need. *** Humans of Healthcare is a series of stories introducing people who work in the healthcare profession to the community at large, to see past "healthcare" as an institution and to see the humans at work inside.

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