Adding a new dimension to urban planning

A unique urban planning firm, made up entirely of Black women, is making a difference in communities of color.
4:43 | 07/20/20

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Transcript for Adding a new dimension to urban planning
Now to a new dimension in urban planning, taking the personality of a community more deeply into account when making decisions about it. Our ABC transportation correspondent gio Benitez joins us with more. This is very interesting. Reporter: In some communities just getting from point a to point B is an incredibly difficult task, so right now we're introducing you to a group of women hoping to make a big impact one road at a time. In city after city, this is the new reality -- streets closed down to traffic, parking spots turned into outdoor dining. But for some, these changes are triggering a moment of reckoning and Dr. Destiny Thomas is on the front lines. For you that speed hump? It represents so much. It's an act of atonement. Reporter: For Dr. Thomas, there's more to the road than meets the eye. This speed hump suggests that someone took the time to go to every house on this block. Reporter: She runs a unique California firm from L.A. To Oakland, comprised solely of black women, the thrivance group, urban planners focused on how people of color move throughout American cities. I'm working in the interest in rooting out racism from every mode. I should be able to wake up and choose for myself how I want to get to where I'm going. That shouldn't be the most stressful decision of my day and right now for a lot of people it is. Reporter: She says the key to helping a community is by engaging directly with its residents. Hearing their needs, for example, to many adding a bike lane may seem like a big help. In a community that's not seen any commitment, investment or anyone leaning into the overall well-being of the community, the bike lane is a telltale sign that cost of living is going up. You don't want to change something so much that other people come in and displace the residents. Exactly, and the way you avoid that is by bringing community along every step of the way. Implementing it in the way that matches values. Reporter: One of those members of the community, a woman from Oakland thinking outside the box. This bike plan in the middle of the street. In the middle of the street. This is what it means to listen to members of the community, because here you didn't want to traditional bike plans on the side of the road. Right, we wanted to reflect the culture. Reporter: And watch what happens as we're talking about issues on the road -- a car accident just we just saw an accident right now. That speaks to an issue with the streets. Yes, there are not many ways to make left and right turns. There's only one lane. It's not how we naturally kind of drive in east Oakland, and so it's creating additional issues like that. Greetings from Oakland, California. Reporter: In Oakland, the strategic planner now finds herself trying to help the community she grew up in. We were talking about biking and walking and I was like, yeah, in theory, sure, let's bike and walk, but not everybody can do that and not everybody can be a commuter. I think we tend to plan for people who have resources and then we expect everybody else to fall in line. Why is that? I can't really say anything else but racism. Seriously, I don't know what else to kind of attribute it to. Reporter: An opportunity to be truly heard. With the pandemic changing transportation as we've know it and the black lives matter movement putting a spotlight on these issues -- Now's not the time to judge why people choose to move and navigate space the way that they do. If you live in a body that looks like mine, or if you're a trans black woman or a young black man man, the odds are stacked against you no matter what mode you choose. Gio joins us now. These women were so powerful and so incredible, I'm curious, how are officials reacting to their suggestions? Well, Amy, I got to tell you, local officials in L.A. And Oakland, they are listening. In fact, several changes are under way. Dr. Thomas says a lot more needs to be done. She hopes this message spreads far beyond California to every city in America. I think that's a hope we can all share, gio. Thank you very much for that very incredible report. We appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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