The Role of Online Social Networking in Promoting Sustainable Mobility in Egypt

Ahmed El-Dorghamy 1 , Ahmed Mosa 2 , Mahmoud Sabae 3

Green Arm, Nahdet El Mahrousa NGO, Cairo, Egypt Department of Civil Engineering, German University in Cairo (GUC), Egypt Email for correspondence:


Accepted in Track G3 - Urban Transport Policy (including nonmotorised modes) (SIG 10)
Topic Area Topic Area G: Transport Planning, Policy and Management

1 Objective
The advent of social media tools in recent years has played a key role in the emergence of civilsociety cycling groups in Egypt. Youth-led Cairo Cyclers Club (CCC) and other pioneering cycling groups rapidly expanded since 2008 and replicated elsewhere, and in some cases used by creative entrepreneurs as business opportunities. This research examines how the civil society, empowered by social media (e.g. Facebook and online blogs, etc) and Web2 tools, promoted sustainable mobility in Egypt. It also maps out how the organic growth of activists occurred while discussing the drivers behind them and lessons learnt.

2 Data/Methodology
This paper is based on a survey of the online content indicating the history of events of cycling groups (Facebook timelines, track of event announcements, blogs, media coverage, etc) combined with personal interviews with the group leaders and key activists. The launching period of identified cycling groups and track record are examined for each group to determine the drivers and to discuss the administrative and performance aspects, the sustainability of the initiative, and the business model if any.

3 Results/Findings
The results show that the activities of the initiating groups show features of successful locallytailored social marketing practices with numerous side benefits. The movement starts with trendsetters heavily relying on social media tools for event management and marketing while addressing the social stigma dilemma through individual stewardship in lifestyles. The movement later inspires more to join, imitate, or innovate in the work model, thereby catering to more segments of society and offering more lessons learnt from the diverse experimental initiatives. The nature of online social networking inherently incentivizes leaders to perform well.

Performance across groups varies according to personal skills and capacities of alternating leaders, trial and error, among other factors. A distinct finding was also the high involvement of females in cycling events, which is unusual in other outdoor activities. Influences of the recent political turbulence and social change in light of the Egyptian revolution were also noted.

4 Implications for Research/Policy
Results show how online social networking can be employed to promote sustainable mobility in Egypt. Furthermore, the observed effectiveness of youth-led social marketing for cycling indicates the significant potential contribution of civil society to soft interventions in transportation and their contribution to other social marketing interventions.

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