According to a public tender document issued by TfL, the new company will also take over managing and maintaining the existing fleet of bicycles.
London's public bicycles are renowned for their sturdiness: weighing 23 kilograms and designed to last up to 64,000 kilometres. The design features a three-speed hub gear, puncture-proof tyres, dynamo-powered LED lights and an RFID tag that communicates with the city's docking stations to keep track of how long each bike has been in use.
The bike-sharing scheme won the transport category in the Brit Insurance Design Awards in 2011. It was originally sponsored by British bank Barclays, which leant its trademark light blue colour to the branding. Spanish-owned bank Santander took over the contract in 2015, so the blue was swapped for red as part of its seven-year deal.
As cycling has become more popular in London, many ideas have been floated to improve road safety. Norman Foster unveiled a concept to build a network of elevated pathways above London's railways to create safe car-free cycling routes, while Gensler wants to repurpose the UK capital's abandoned tube tunnels to create a subterranean network of pathways.
Many cities around the world now have similar bike-sharing schemes in place – including New York, which launched its version in 2013.
Images: (1 & 2) London's current hire bikes; (3) Proposed elevated cycle-way by Norman Foster.