Proposed features/banks

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Status: Proposed (under way)
Proposed by: Sletuffe
Tagging: natural=bank
Applies to: ways
Definition: For tagging banks of all sorts of water bodies (river, lake, pond, reservoir, ...)
Drafted on:
Proposed on: 2012-09-13
Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = bank
For tagging banks of all sorts of water bodies tagged as surfaces (river, lake, pond, reservoir, ...) Edit or translate this description.
Group: Natural
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasuse on relations unspecified
Useful combination
Status: proposed


This tag describe the separation line between any water body tagged as a surface and land. Like waterway=riverbank it should mark the maximum extends of the water. But unlike waterway=riverbank this proposal is to tag linear only features (a bank is linear).

For oceans ands seas use natural=coastline instead.


Tagging scheme for natural=bank
Tag Description
natural=bank The natural bank of the water surface
optional bank=natural for naturaly formed bank.
optional bank=man_made when it was constructed by man (dam, floodbank, walls)
optional bank_of=lake bank_of=river bank_of=reservoir Specify what type of water body this bank is (whatever is valid for water=* is valid for this one)
optional name=* Name of this bank if it has a name


Possible-river-relationship.png In this example of a large river (created with a relation type=multipolygon+waterway=riverbank containing ways 1 to 7 ) with an island, way 1 to 7 can all have natural=bank

Why that and not just waterway=riverbank on the surface ?

waterway=riverbank is used to mark the area of a named river, but all borders of the river isn't always a bank (some people use it to tag rivers in several pieces of connected polygons, and the arbitrary junction isn't a bank) Also on confluence point of 2 rivers, the joining line if often marked as "riverbank" which it is not. This proposal aims at recording real banks.

It can be used without conflict with waterway=riverbank ( or natural=water if used on a relation) because those are used to tag area, while this proposal is for ways.

Use case exemple

It's currently impossible (or very hard ?) to have such a rendering (ie a smooth junction between the river banks and the lake banks when you need special rendering for them) because there is nothing in the data to express the fact that the connection line between 2 bodies of water isn't a bank : River-and-lake-junction.png

problems to solve (or not)

  • natural=bank + bank=man_made looks weird
  • is it usefull at all to specify what water body this bank is of ?
  • for a non-relation lake natural=water + natural=bank on the same way is not possible

See Also