River or stream

The wiki says “An active, able-bodied person should be able to jump over” a stream, as opposed to a river. Assuming we’re not talking elite athletes, we mean with dry feet and ignoring the quality of the footing for the leap, can we put a rough value on this cutoff? I was thinking about 2 / 2.5m wide as the minimum width over a stretch of 100 metres or so to be a river. Any other suggestions?

Hi. There’s not much difference between the wiki description and yours, so I’d say, sure, that sounds about right. It’ll be a matter of opinion, splitting hairs perhaps. I’m an active, able-bodied person, and figure I can leap roughly my own length.

As long as we avoid gross mis-categorizations, I think we’ll be fine. I’ve camped beside “Horsethief Creek” in western Canada, and watched the water level rise and fall over the course of the day, but never becoming low enough that I’d dare attempt a crossing; a horse with rider might even have trouble. Appropriately, OSM has it mapped as waterway=river, regardless of the name (Canadian understatement, LOL).

Speaking of western Canada, imports have left a mess of genuine rivers mapped as “stream”, and I’ve followed a rule of thumb there. A waterway in mountainous British Columbia, more than a kilometer or two from the headwaters, is pretty much guaranteed to be a river, not a stream. Barring any signs of a ground survey in the history, upgrading the downstream portion to a river is a pretty safe assumption.

Thanks. This is a British ‘beck’ added about 10 years ago, and although upstream sections (also called becks) are jumpable I wouldn’t say this is. As much as anything I wanted to check there was general agreement with the wiki.

To be honest, I wouldn’t try and overthink the “jump across” definition, not least because it doesn’t take into account seasonal variation - something that may not exist at all in summer might be pretty treachorous in winter.

On moorland to the north of where I am (North Yorkshire) there’s a fairly clear existing pattern of ditches and wetlands at the top, followed by streams and then rivers - I mostly try and fit in with what’s been mapped previously. At some point a stream becomes a river and it’s a matter of judgement deciding when. To take an example, for the River Esk it’s https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/54.4162/-0.9949 in OSM. That I think predates my editing there in OSM but is mostly about right I think.

Thanks. Yeah, I realised I was trying to be too precise but just trying to make sure my guage wasn’t miles out before I started changing what someone else (not you!) had done. Your example is useful too. Fortunately in this case the break points are quite clear, at least overground, as there is a culvert where various streams merge. As it is currently mapped this runs as a stream all the way into the river Aire, which by comparison is very large! Unfortunately there isn’t good aerial imagery as it’s all wooded but I know the place well. https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/798334401

I realised the alternative was to map the area, making its size explicit

If you do that, you’ll still want to map waterway=* (likely river at this point) down the guesstimated deep-water channel, putting the name on the waterway only, following convention.

Thanks. Yes, it’s already mapped but currently tagged as a stream, probably based on it being named a beck. That being said it’s not very wide - probably 3 to 4 metres for most of the stretch I’m talking about, and fairly shallow (fordable in wellies at various points most of the year).

I had a look at various other rivers in the north/east of England to see when they became streams and it was pretty variable, mainly based on name as far as I could tell. The one that seems really wrong is the River Tees, which is named that (or at least The Tees, not sure about ‘River’) all the way to its source and so has been tagged as a river its whole length. I once plodded around some boggy moorland looking for its source - not sure I found it but there was no river!

Hi TrekClimbing, following the earlier suggestions you could change the tag river into stream, but dont change it without asking an earlier mapper who tagged or used river and dont forget to ask why ?

To be honest, in the case of the River Tees, it is in OSM as a “river” from https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/4446865765 downwards, and I don’t think that’s correct by any reasonable definition, although it does become wider fairly quickly. OSM has always improved by people adding things less accurately to start with and later people refining it. I bet if TrekClimbing updates it in line with their recollection it’ll be better than it is now.

So, I had a look at the history and all of the Tees was a river since creation in 2009 based on an old and low detail map (NPE). I’ve updated it, making it a stream until Swath Beck joins: https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/101288160#map=18/54.70235/-2.43440
To be clear, this is based on imagery rather than any recollection. It’s obviously a bit arbitrary but shortly after that point it seems to get somewhat wider, the first mini islands appear (at least in summer) and there is a bit of a flood ‘plain’. Anyway, I’d be happy for someone else to change this point in the future. It’s kept the name River Tees as that’s how it’s shown on the NLS OS 1:10,560.