NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York congressman wants to allow pretax dollars to be spent on New York City’s bike-share program.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, a beaming Rep. Joe Crowley rode into a news conference Monday in Jackson Heights, Queens, on a Citi Bike.

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“The only problem is we had to get it from quite a way to get it here,” the Queens Democrat said.

Crowley said his constituents have been begging for bike shares in the area. He believes extending the commuter pretax benefit to bike shares could encourage expansion of the Citi Bike program.

“You can (use pretax earnings to) get a MetroCard to take the subway or the bus, but you can’t use that benefit right now for a bike-share membership,” Crowley said.

Crowley’s legislation in the House would apply to bike-share programs nationwide. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has a similar measure pending in the Senate.

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If approved, the move could also potentially help the program climb out of its financial hole.

Crowley said his intent is to make the program more affordable and accessible. He would not speak to the fact that the pretax benefit would potentially allow Citi Bike to raise rates to ease its financial problems without forcing members to actually pay more.

Josh Benson, the Department of Transportation’s director of cycling and pedestrian programs, told Silverman, “We don’t have any updates on the expansion of the Citi Bike system.”

Expansion probably will have to wait until a bailout plan reportedly in the works is finalized, Silverman reported.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Flushing, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya, D-Jackson Heights, also attended Monday’s news conference.

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