More than 60 motorists have been fined for driving in a bus lane to avoid a city centre road blocked by a crash.
A controversial council "spy cars" spotted the vehicles as police attended the scene of the rush-hour collision.
A total of 66 drivers were caught by the enforcement vehicle's camera within 60 minutes.
A total of 43 have already stumped up £60 or £30 if paid within 14 days.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is refusing to refund the penalties because "alternative routes were available" despite drivers claiming surrounding streets were gridlocked.
One of the council "spy cars"
But others are going through the appeals process and are calling for the fines to be cancelled, the Stoke Sentinel reports.
The drivers used the lane in Lower Bethesda Street close to Hanley Fire Station as police were at the scene in nearby Regent Road.
Mandy Jones was among the drivers who were shocked when a penalty charge notice dropped through her letterbox.
The 47-year-old, of Bucknall, said: "Traffic was really busy on that evening and I went down Regent Road to avoid it. The road was blocked off because there had been a crash.
"Everybody was turning around and I went down past the fire station. So many people must have been fined on that night – the council must have made a killing.
"All people were doing was just trying to get away from that road and find an alternative."
Mother-of-two Mandy added: "It looks like I'll have to pay but I'm not happy about it."
Police and an ambulance were sent to a crash between an Audi and Dodge Avenger in Regent Road – close to the authority's parking services department – at around 5pm on March 14.
The road was blocked during rush hour while both vehicles were recovered and paramedics checked the casualties over.
A letter sent from the authority pointed out drivers could have turned down Jasper Street, a narrow terrace-lined residential road, or done a three-point turn on Regent Road to get onto Lichfield Street to avoid the bus lane.
Barry Brockbank, assistant director operations division, today defended the fines which could have netted the council £3,960 if every motorist caught paid the full £60.
He said: "Bus lanes are there for a specific purpose – to ensure the free flow of public transport in busy areas. The bus lane in question is clearly marked as such and has been in place for a long time.
"The police have confirmed that they did not direct traffic to use the bus lane following the collision. Alternative routes were available for motorists to avoid the effects of the accident. Had the bus lane been the only alternative then, of course it would be an entirely different matter.
"In any event if a motorist presents us with evidence that they were given a fixed penalty notice unfairly we will always review the case accordingly and if appropriate happily cancel that notice.
"Should a motorist not be happy with our refusal of their appeal, they can easily take their case to the independent traffic penalty tribunal for a final ruling.
"However, any fixed penalty notice that is judged to be properly served will be pursued for full payment."