The community has to trust developers of the cars, users of the cars, and they also have to see that these cars are going to take them to the places that they have had difficulty getting to.”

Richard Ezike, Ph.D., Noted Subject-Matter Expert on Transportation Equity

Dr. Richard Ezike’s earliest childhood dreams of doing meaningful work were about building beautiful buildings and cityscapes. But after earning advanced degrees in science and advocating for the environment and our urban centers, his career pivoted in a completely unexpected direction.

Now, Dr. Ezike leads the charge for American Transportation Equity, to make the full range of mobility options—and, in particular, Autonomous Vehicles or AVs—as readily available for inner-city residents as they are for people in our more affluent suburbs. He believes that AVs will provide safer and more accessible mobility, and may greatly improve the lives of inner-city residents who otherwise are deprived of quality transportation.

During these key interview segments, Dr. Ezike:

  • Defines the term “Autonomous Vehicle” [starts at 1:40]
  • Offers his insight as to whether people of color will accept AVs as a transportation equity option [starts at 6:51]
  • Addresses the national security and “hackability” concerns related to the development of AVs [starts at 10:55]
  • Offers his thoughts on how, 30 years from now, AVs may revitalize historically poor and underserved communities such as Southeast Washington, D.C. [starts at 23:31]

About our guest: As a child growing up in Kingsport, Tennessee, Richard Ezike was “fascinated by the design of buildings.” On family trips, young Richard brought along his Kodak camera to capture images of the buildings that he admired most. He recalls: “I really wanted to be someone that was able to design the next major city in the country.”

In high school, Richard discovered a passion for scientific study; he thrived in AP Chemistry, and soon after, earned bachelors and doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering. But it was years later, at a prized fellowship with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, that he understood the importance of an equitable transportation system to a functioning system. That was when his childhood dream of creating great places to live merged with his passion for promoting science and economic, environment, and social parity.

Today, he is nationally recognized thought-leader in Transportation Equity.

Richard Ezike received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Currently, he is a New Mobility and Equity Fellow for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. Dr. Ezike is a frequent events speaker and podcast guest in the areas of transportation equity, resource sustainability, social responsibility, STEAM learning, careerism, and the environment.

EPISODE DATE: November 23, 2018

Published work:

Transportation, Sustainability, and Equity and the Effect on the African-American Community, Published October 20, 2016

Transportation, Environment and Health: Inexorably Linked for Black People, Washington Informer, Published September 7, 2016

Can Transportation be a Bridge to Wealth for African Americans?, Published May 10, 2016

Social media:

Richard Ezike, Ph.D. Website

LinkedIn Page

Photo credits: Autonomous Vehicle, Getty Images; Photographic Portrait, Richard Ezike, PhD.