A hook turn is an indirect way for cyclists to turn right at a signalised intersection (see the diagram below). It involves moving to the far side of the intersection (position 1), keeping as far left as possible. The cyclist then waits there until the side street gets a green light and then moves with side street traffic across the intersection (to position 2).
So it is turning right in two stages. Pavement markings (see the photo below) can assist cyclists with undertaking this manoeuvre and explaining it to other road users, but some cyclists execute hook turns routinely even without hook turn pavement markings.
In the early 2000s, a trial was undertaken in Christchurch at the Greers Rd / Memorial Avenue intersection near Burnside High School, the second-largest high school in New Zealand with over 2,500 students. The trial did not require formal LTSA approval at the time, as, according to Land Transport NZ, there seems to be nothing illegal about providing and marking an appropriate hook turn waiting area. The subsequent evaluation was not conclusive, the main problem being that most cyclists were not making use of the hook turn facility, but reached the right turn lane and turned 'in a normal fashion'. The approach to the hook turn is a two-lane road with a flush median and an AADT of about 20,000 vehicles per day. As the flush median leads into the right turning lane, many cyclists (including significant numbers of high school students) find it easy enough to get onto the right turn lane.
2007 request for more Trials
Tim Hughes (Land Transport NZ) indicated to us some months ago that he would be interested in having more sites trialled. Preferably, there should be a number of locations trialled simultaneously, and it should be more challenging for cyclists to reach the right turning lane than at the previous trial site.
If you are interested in taking part in this trial, please contact Tim, who would co-ordinate all this. His contact details are (03) 964 2843; (021) 934 372 and Tim.Hughes@landtransport.govt.nz
Queensland Main Roads has recently introduced a hook turn facility in Cairns. There is good information about hook turns on the Queensland Main Roads website, including how hook turns work at signals and priority intersections, a description on how to undertake a hook turn, and a video showing the manoeuvre being executed.